Monthly Archives: January 2013

O Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?

I remember learning this song in primary school choir, do you know it?

O soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me
With your musket fife and drum?
O no sweet maid I cannot marry you
For I have no coat to put on.
So up she went to her grandfather’s chest
And she got him a coat of the very, very best
And the soldier put it on.

The next three verses are the same, but it’s hat, gloves and boots instead of coat. Then comes the final verse…

O soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me
With your musket fife and drum?
O no sweet maid I cannot marry you…
…For I have for I have a wife of my own!

I’ve no idea why that song has stuck with me as opposed to more important parts of my education. But it keeps coming back to me as I reflect on our mission as sacred agents. What a sucker that sweet maid is! And what a cad the soldier!

It reminds me of a danger of what I call ‘generosity evangelism’. We lavish people with favour/s wanting to demonstrate the grace of God. And people are happy to receive them. Churches that stretch their resources to offer community programmes see it all the time. People are very happy to receive what’s offered, and often come back regularly, but don’t, at the end of the day, come to join the church and the One who loves them the most. You see, they are already wedded to someone else.

In the Soldier song, the sweet maid clearly hadn’t had a rather necessary talk with the soldier. At least, she hadn’t drawn out much of his story, had she? She just hoped that gifts would say and do it all. She’s left not only heart-broken, but empty-handed!

I wonder whether our tendency to attempt evangelism predominantly without words (the famous but mythical quote of Francis of Assisi comes to mind) leads us up the same naïve path? Discuss!

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