Federated Church of Marlborough
Marlborough, New Hampshire
Sermon - July 3, 2016
Scripture Reading: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 & Galatians 6:1-10
Sermon Title: “Measuring our Success”
The Rev. Robert Vodra
returned from Cub Scout camp just a few days ago.Collin and I spent Sunday through Thursday at
camp, with 17 of his Cub Scout Friends, and 4 other leaders in addition to
myself.I had thought about these
scriptures before I left, and knowing that Beth had to put a bulletin together,
I had chosen the hymns, and the other parts of the service before I left.But I would have Friday and Saturday to write
last week when I was putting together my first thoughts on the sermon and
bulletin info, I titled my sermon Measuring our Success.The Luke scripture upon first few readings
and little bit of research started to push me in that direction.If you go into a town and are rejected, just
brush off the dust and move on.
then I arrived at Cub Scout Camp.There
are rules at Cub Scout camp, and each area of camp has specific rules.When you go to the Archery range, or BB
range, you have to stay behind certain lines, you have to listen to
instructions, you have to sit when you are asked to sit and stand when you are
asked to stand.But there are only a few
rules that cover the whole camp.Wear
shoes, no running except on the sports field, and don’t go anywhere alone.It is the buddy system, anywhere you go, you
always have a buddy with you.
within 5 minutes of arriving, I started to remember how important the buddy
system was.Because it was so hot, we
were pushing them to drink a lot of water.Every time we went by a certain building that tended to have slightly
colder water than any other place in camp, they filled their water
bottles.At meals they drank a pitcher of
water before they could move onto juice or fruit punch.We did allow them to buy some sports drinks
they sold in the camp store, and also allowed them to buy slushies, those half
frozen chemical combinations, with lots of sugar and artificial flavors. This meant that at least every 5 minutes we
would hear “I have to go potty.”Even if
we had just walked by an outhouse and we said “Anyone who has to use the
outhouse, let’s all go now so we don’t have to leave whatever activity we are going
to.”Didn’t seem to matter.
our response was “Bring a buddy.”They
would look around, like they were surprised that, although they had heard it at
least 20 times that day already, we had just come up with this idea of bringing
a buddy. They would turn to anyone near them and ask “Can you be my
buddy.”The answer was always “Yes” and
off they went.
the bathrooms, going to the camp store, going to any activities, they were not
supposed to be alone anytime.Even
middle of the night, if they had to go to the bathroom, they were supposed to
wake up their bunkmate to walk down to the outhouse with them.
the adults, we also tried to keep the buddy system.No so much for the short walk to the
outhouse, but if you are trying to get 18 Cub Scouts, or even a smaller group,
from one place in camp to another, it was a minimum of two people needed.One to lead the way, and one to bring up the
back.In any activity, if someone were to
get hurt, you need one adult to care for the injured and one to watch the other
kids.In the adult scout world they call
that two deep leadership.
Jesus sent them out in pairs to every town.As brilliant as this idea is, the Cub Scouts cannot claim that they
invented this idea.Church work is
something that you cannot do as a lone ranger.You need someone else to bounce ideas off of, to pick you up when you
fall, to show you the way when you are lost.And, of course, you do the same for them.
of the other things this week was that we carried our backpacks everywhere.Every morning when we got up, and got the
kids ready for breakfast, we said “Put your bathing suit, towel, sun screen,
bug dope, water bottle and rain gear in your backpack, we will not be coming
back here until tonight.
was harder for me than it was for the kids.You see, especially when I am working with kids, I like to be
prepared.I had a pack meeting a few
weeks ago, and the idea was just to get together and have some fun.So I threw some Frisbees, and balls, a
whiffle bat, and a few other things in my truck.Then before the meeting, I thought of about 6
other activities we could do, if we had time.I think we did two of them.If
you work with kids, you know that busy hands and heads don’t get into
trouble.So you keep them as busy as possible.So into my backpack went a ball, or Frisbee
or something else to keep their hands busy.
I am always thinking safety.So before
we leave, I am going to make sure I have in my backpack some basic first aid
supplies, just Band-Aids, gauze, an ace bandage, an instant ice pack, just the
stuff we may need an emergency.Plus, I
will bring a flashlight, in case we don’t get back before it gets dark.Toilet paper, in case we go to an outhouse
that does not have toilet paper and somebody needs it, and of course a few
small snacks for the kids who get really hungry between meals and snacks.
even with my 15 pound backpack, I was still relying on others for things.We ate in the dining hall.
Every meal was provided for us and we were
relying on the kitchen staff to prepare and serve meals that would fill us up.We were relying on the camp nurse to take
care of any medical needs beyond our ability.We were relying on the camp staff to know the rules, teach us, and act
as instructors and lifeguards.
this also Jesus understood.If his pairs
of disciples were to go without anything, it should be provided to them. As I moved through this past week I started to
see how all these things were true in Cub Scout Camp and also true for the
always laugh a little when I read about someone who considers themselves an
expert in anything related to churches.There are church finance experts, church stewardship experts, even
interim ministry experts.I hope you all
know that I am not an interim ministry expert.Hopefully I have some insights, some ideas, some thoughts, but I did not
come to Marlborough to be an expert.I
came to spend time with you, work beside you, learn and grow with you.And the next pastor you call will not be an
expert either, but will have some gifts that I don’t have, and will also come
to spend time with you, work beside you, learn and grow with you.Jesus never looked for the experts.In sending out his disciples, the 70
additional ones he had chosen, he didn’t tell them to go into a town as
experts, but rather go into the towns with nothing, go into the towns with a
vulnerability.And Jesus knew that some
of these would be accepted, and some would be rejected.
it is about measuring our success, because our success is not measured in
numbers.We are called to go out, in
pairs, with nothing and announce that Jesus is coming.We are called to go out and tell others about
what our experience has been.But even
Jesus knew that not everyone would listen to the message.Our success could be how faithfully we share;
not how many hear the message.
is interesting that this passage falls so close to the Fourth of July, also
known as independence day.Of course it
is celebrating our independence from England, but those who first came to
America from other countries knew that their survival
depended on relationships.Relationships
with the Native peoples who taught them what they could eat, what they could
not eat, and how to grow crops in this new land.Their survival depended on their fellow
colonists.Each colony could not produce
everything they needed and wanted, so they traded and bartered with each other,
and even within a colony, not everyone could be a doctor, and farmer, and
teacher, and blacksmith.Those earliest
groups were called Commonwealths.It is
interesting how we have gone from knowing and relying on each other for our
common good, to such fierce independence.Look out for number one.
course we know that Jesus’ message is often countercultural, especially in
today’s world. So it is no surprise that Jesus message of staying in groups of
two, and relying on others were his instructions to his disciples and are his
message to us today.
we leave here today, I hope that you celebrate independence day, but also view
it as an interdependence day.We are
called by Jesus go to out into this world, to spread his message, and we have
instructions on how to do it successfully.