Over the years, I have collected a significant number of mementos recording various stages of my life. Of some I am quite fond, and others are remembrances of times I would like to forget. Of the former, I keep several in my office. Yes, ordination certificates are here, but I am referencing my spurs (I was the first junior enlisted to receive the 2-107th’s Spur Award) and Stetson. These are relics of my seven years with the 2nd Squadron, 107th Cavalry, Ohio Army National Guard. In many ways those years were the formative ones of my life, and my service led me directly to the American expression of Anglicanism in The Episcopal Church. (Thank you CH (Maj) Pursley, OHARNG ret.).
In all I spent 12 years in the reserve forces of the US Military. That is, until it was determined that I should resign my commission to focus on parish ministry. Truth is, some days I still miss it. Being a National Guard soldier was and is a fine way to serve, but it is a far cry from the Regular Army. I say that I spent 12 years in the Army, that, strictly speaking, is not true. In reality I spent roughly 900 days in uniform over that period, so I was really in the Army for almost 2.5 years as the traditional guardsman contracts for Basic Training, Advanced Training, one weekend per month, and two weeks of “Annual Training”. Much of Annual Training each year was brushing up on basic soldier skills that had grown rusty in the preceding year. It seemed that I was always playing catch-up. Now, of course, I was liable to call up, but for me that never happened, and in the post 9/11 Guard deployments are common,but the National Guard was not the Regular Army.
While I did stand watch honorably, I was thinking about my National Guard experience after reading Martin Thornton’s Christian Proficiency the other day. In his section on developing a system of prayer, or rule of life, he uses the term “Regular” to define a Christian who keeps the basic pattern of Christian prayer that involves Mass (Eucharist for the Low Church among us) on Sundays and Feast Days, the Daily Office, and private personal prayer. His image for this, of course, is the Regular Soldier who is guided and lives by the Queen’s Regulations (Thornton is English). It is the Regular Christian, for Thornton, that grows in holiness and in their relationship with Christ and the Church. The goal for all of us is to become Regular Christians in the Church Militant.
I was a National Guard soldier for 900 days out of a period of 12 years, and while it was honorable service, I do not want to be a National Guard Christian. So, I ask, to which branch of the Church Militant do you belong? Are you a Regular, or will one weekend a month and two weeks a year be enough?
The Church is always open to new enlistments and changes of branch.