This sermon was preached at Camp Calumet in Freedom, NH on September 4, 2010. The weekend was dedicated to a reunion of all those who served on staff in the 1990’s. About 200 people signed up for the weekend. I served as chaplain.
The focus of my sermon comes from the Gospel appointed for the Sunday Luke 14: 25-33.
Over the next several days I will be posting more thoughts and reflections on the 90’s weekend.
For now enjoy the sermon!
Wow, I thought for a moment to change the lessons for today, especially the gospel lesson. I would have a hard time talking about the Gospel today in my home congregation much less here at camp!
Jesus says “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Jesus tells us today “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Not something you hear at Calumet that often.
What kind of message is that for us – here we are surrounded by our family and friends. Calumet is a place where we come together and build lasting relationships. Not where we learn how to hate one another.
This past week I spent time with the greatest friends in the world here at camp. This weekend we gather with friends, we am gathered with some people whom we have not seen in a number of years, and the relationships we have with people here at Calumet are like family. That’s what Calumet does for people. And we are to deny that?
Well, yes – if that is what Jesus is telling us then we are to deny those with whom we feel closest too, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus is talking about.
There are two lessons for us to learn from today’s Gospel.
The first is that community does not happen overnight. The fact that we have close if not over 200 people here for a 90’s reunion did not happen by mistake.
Jesus says “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”
Our tower here at Calumet has been built, it might not be complete but the community built here at did not happen overnight. The foundation was laid over 50 years ago and The reason that there are so many people dedicated to the success of the ministry at Calumet is because there has been time and energy put in by thousands of people over the years.
Sure the 90’s might have been the greatest decade in Calumet’s history.
But it has been thousands and thousands of people who have looked upon the waters of Lake Ossipee who have made the success of the camp possible. There have been hundreds of counselors who have comforted a homesick child. There have been times over and over again when a camper looks at his or her counselor and says “I want to grow up to be as cool as they are.”
Thousands and thousands of miles have been traveled by car, plane and train to and from Calumet. Over and over again counselors have gone out of their way on a bus just to make sure their campers get home okay.
So, There has been sacrifice – at one point or another we have given up our family and friends at home to live out the ministry work that we feel God called us to live out.
It doesn’t matter if we did that in the 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s or 90’s or if we do that today, God’s call was felt and we answered that call.
Now, sure some days were lived just to make it for those precious days off. Which might of included getting new tiva’s at LL Bean, or going out to see the new blockbusters which might of included: The Sixth Sense, Forrest Gump or Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
But there are those other days when we knew that we were here for the kids, when we saw a kid in our cabin group really understand the point of our learning groups, or devotions. When a camper would come up to us after not seeing us for a year and say “Remember when you told us that story last year, the one about the little boy who ran away from home, he took all his father’s money and left— but then he returned and his father threw him a party. I loved that story. I thought about it when I wanted to run away from home, but I didn’t because I knew because of that story that my parents love me, because of that story I know that God loves me, even when others might not”
In one way or another, if you have been a counselor, program director, unit leader, department head, kitchen worker, maintenance crew, or any other of the many jobs that are here at Camp calumet, you have touched a life and have made it better. You have improved the life of someone because you cared enough to come to camp, you gave something up in your life, you lived out of a trunk for 3 months, because you gave up your possessions for a summer to commune with God and with nature and somehow found yourself while doing it.
Now unlike many of you, I took my summer experience a step further and I worked year round here at Calumet. My overall experience here led me to pursue my calling as a pastor.
One of the things that I have seen over and over again is the excitement that people get when they come here. It is more like a spiritual kick in the pants than anything else. People come here and experience the love of God and then go home and spread it to their families, churches and communities. It doesn’t matter if they come here for a weekend, a week or a whole summer – they are on fire for God and it is awesome.
Then it happens Life gets to us and then we go back to the everyday – our churches are great but it is not like Calumet. You don’t always get that feeling like when you turn on camp road and you don’t always get that feeling like when you see the blinking sign and you know you have made it once again, and the pressures of the world leave your shoulders. Life gets to us and it feels like we are dealing with that rather than living out the life God calls us too…..
The hope is to be able to go to church and to have the energy and passion continue until we arrive again at Calumet. The hope is – is to overcome the disconnect most of us experience between our visits at Calumet, between what we do on Sundays in church and what we do the rest of the week. It feels like we are living three different kind of lives. Then we can ask ourselves……
What is it that gets to our hearts, to our very souls that we experience here? How do we capture that in other places of our lives?
How do we take the words that we hear from scripture and apply it to our life? Perhaps some of us are able to do that, perhaps some of us have not done it since we really left staff over a decade ago….
Working with Mindy and the many others who have put this weekend together I have been flooded with memories of my time on staff here. As I reflected on my many summers here I have laughed, cried and replayed the days that could be considered some of the best of my life.
One of the things that I have been reflecting in my own life, is how do I capture that time of my life and apply it to who I am today.
Today I have more roles in my life than when I was in my late teenage years– we all do. How do we capture a time when we felt emotionally and spiritually high and how do we translate that to our lives today?
It is tough, but it can be done. It means thinking about the lessons you learned here at Calumet or at your home church and use them when you are working through a problem at home or a challenge at work. How many times do you ask yourselves, what would Jesus do? What would D-Guy do? Or what would Karl….….but perhaps that’s something you should not ask yourself…..
But, I think in order to incorporate lessons learned into our lives today we have to believe that what we do – at home, at work, as volunteers, as citizens – We believe that it matters to God. We need to believe that what we do in your everyday is holy and sacred.
I am here to tell you today that what you do everyday of your life is God at work in and through you for the sake of the world. I am here to tell you today that God loves so much. That what you do does matter in the world and in the eyes of God.
The lessons that you learned here does play out in your everyday life and you might not even know it. But while you are here, during the remainder of the weekend, Take some time in reflection – reflect on the gifts that Calumet has given you over the years. Reflect on Calumet has shaped who you have turned out to be. Reflect on the dedication and passion that you had for the campers when you were here at Calumet.
That same dedication God has for us in our lives. That dedication is reflected on the Cross of Jesus. It is the cross that Jesus invites us to today – Jesus invites us to take up our cross – that is, to have our life shaped by what God did for us through Jesus Christ. Which is that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself on the Cross so that we are free from the bondage of sin – anywhere, anytime, and doing just about anything.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing today for a job, in the eyes of God when you offer your time, talent, and labor to God, you are bearing your cross by allowing your whole life to be shaped by your faith in Christ.
What you do in your life, matters to God and makes a difference in the world. As we have given up time with family and friends to live out a call given to us by God. As we reflect and renew our hearts this weekend, as we remember the gifts that we have been blessed with during our time at Calumet. We hear the words of promise from God. Promise of love, forgiveness, grace these promises that God tells us this over and over again. Our time here matters because on the shores of Lake Ossipee we hear that God loves us, that God promises us eternal life, and God does not break promises.