February 5, 2012
Rev. Estelle Margarones
Isaiah 40:21-31, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Today is Super Sunday...because it's Scout Sunday. (And I also hear that there's a football game on later today!)
In the Scripture we just heard, we learned that God is everywhere, all the time, and God gives us strength. That is physical strength, mental strength, and moral strength. It's the courage to try new things and it's the patience to try and try again. Those are all things we use in scouting and in life.
We also learned that Paul talked to different people in different ways, basically taking to them in language they could understand and relate to. For example, if I said “wicked”, some would hear that and think that it was very bad. Others, particularly those here in New England, hear “wicked” and think of it as a very good thing as in “that was a wicked fun ride”.
Today, I'm going to speak to you in a language that I hope you can all relate to...on this Super Sunday.
I see similarities between stadium games, scouting and spirituality. Yes, football, scouting, and Christianity do actually appear to have sevearl things in common.
1. First, there are the uniforms.
Football players have uniforms. And, actually, the fans do too, in a sense.
I bet that already today, you saw people wearing their Patriots gear. Maybe the runners you saw this morning had on Pats baseball caps or the supermarket bagger was wearing a Patriots jersey. Maybe as soon as you leave here, in your car with the Patriots license plate, you'll be putting on jeans and your Patriots sweatshirt.
Scouts have uniforms. And Christians have the opportunity to wear a uniform, too, and to visibly show others our faith. (We'll come back to that in a little bit.)
2. We also all work for the greater good.
In football, each player does his part to help the team win, but it's about more than just the game. Teams have outreach to their communities. The Patriots have a charitable foundation and this year, they've had a season-long campaign called “Celebrate Volunteerism” which, according to their website, honors Myra Kraft's lifetime commitment to philanthropy and charitable service.
The Scout Slogan is “Do a good turn daily”. Scouting is about so much more than doing something to get a merit badge or going on a campout. It's about living the slogan
In Christianity, we want to help others. Jesus modeled that behavior. He talked about feeding the hungry, clothing those who had little, visiting the sick, and more. Today, we support food pantries and social service organizations. We hold hands with people that need our strength and offer prayerful support for people, situations, and the world at large.
3. Another thing we have in common is practice.
Players don't get to an NFL team without years of practice. A team doesn't get to the Superbowl without months of practice.
Scouts learn and practice new skills. A badge or a palm isn't given 'just because--they involve the mastery of a skill...and that only comes with practice.
As Christians, we're given the opportunity to practice our faith everyday. To walk, as Jesus did, here on this earth and to face situations similar to what he must surely have faced. To deal with trying people and unpleasant situations and to be present in a way that shows grace, and love, and hope, and peace.
4. Football, Scouting and Christianity all have rules.
There are rules of the football game, there're laws in scouting; and there are the Ten Commandments and the rules that Jesus gave us. We all play by the same rules.
5. Teamwork is essential.
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski , and each player has his role, but every person on the team is equally important. They work together to execute plays and win games.
In scouting, teamwork is a fundamental element. Principles and respect are two fundamentals of teamwork.
In Christianity, we're told to Love our Neighbor as Ourselves. We should consider everyone our neighbor. Jesus could have done it all alone, but he didn't. He had a team of twelve disciples. Even when a church takes a collection, when each person puts in what he or she can, that combined effort goes further and makes a greater impact than the funding of one or two alone.
6. We all also have leadership.
In football, there's a coach to lead teams to the Big Game.
In scouting, there are Scoutmasters who help lead youth to adulthood.
In Christianity, Jesus was referred to as a shepherd...one who lead sheep from place to place and kept them safe along the journey.
This is Super Scout Sunday!
May I have a show of hands....(play along if you're willing)...may I have a show of hands of people who either are scouts or were scouts at some point?
Thank you. I, too was a scout. I wonder if your experience was a bit like mine.
I remember the sense of belonging I felt in that uniform. I remember the sense of challenge I felt when attempting something new in order to get a patch and the sense of accomplishment I felt when I'd mastered a new skill and obtained it. I remember the sense of community I felt when we marched together in a parade. And the sense of helpfulness I felt when did good deeds in the community.
Looking back through the lens of one who is older and wiser, I see a lot of parallels between my experiences as a Scout and my experiences as a Christian.
As Christians, don't feel a sense of belonging to a larger community? Isn't there something beautiful and mysterious, yet somehow familiar about every church?
As to that sense of challenge and accomplishment...the gospel of Matthew tells us that With God, All Things Are Possible. As Christians, we know we're never 'going it alone'....God is always with us. And our communities are there for us.
Don't we want follow Jesus and help others?
This is what it means to be Christian. To be part of something that transcends your own personal relationship with God...it's means s we are part of one church and we make up the Body of Christ.
When I went out to sell cookies, I wore my uniform. Today, the scouts are wearing theirs. Earlier, I mentioned that as Christians, we have the opportunity to wear a uniform (and I don't mean a robe or a cross).
How do people know that you're a Christian?
What actions are you showing? What words are you speaking?
How are you both actively seeking God, and reflecting God's light back into the world?
Let's just say there were a Christian 'uniform' we could put on...and it came with a sash. What might be on it? A cross? (Of course). Your church name where the troop number would be? (Sure.)
What else? What would those badges look like? How about praying hands to show relationship with God? Clasped hands...for a show of solidarity? Extended hands to show a sense of helpfulness?
Would you tell others about your badges with a sense of pride? (Do you speak of your Christian experience?)
One critical component of church is relationship. I dare say that one critical component of scouting is also relationship. Earlier today, we heard the Boy Scout Oath. I'm going to read it to you again.
Please listen closely and see if it sounds vaguely familiar:
“On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Could it be that you heard a similar message here?
From the Gospel of Mark, "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”....(and) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
As to that Christian uniform, .the gospel of John says this, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Could it be that simple? That the uniform Christians can put on each day is “love”? “By this all mean will know that you are my disciples. If you love one another.”
Blessed Be and Amen.