Shekinah Glory


Boy Scout Sunday
February 28, 2010, 6:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The first time that I did service work for others I was very young. In our church it was seen as the duty of the young to visit nursing homes to see members who could not make it to church. I also attended a private elementary school that was next door to a nursing home and our children’s choir would often walk over to the facilities to sing and visit with it’s residents.

I remember the first few visits to these institutional settings. The strange smells that emanated from the rooms, the strange noises from machines, the hacking coughs and the grateful looks all greeted me when I entered. It is hard to imagine that these settings would be frightening to a child, but that is exactly what they were for me.
When everyone had gathered in the common room we would sing hymns with and for him or her. When we were done we were encouraged to mingle with the residents. The delight that we received from these people for our simple act was carried back to their rooms as the aids let us accompany them to their residences. It was the first time that I got that sublime experience of doing something for someone else with nothing expected in return.

I have never regretted the hours that I have spent in service to others and have regretted when I get too busy to help others in need. There is no greater calling than to dedicate one’s breathing hours to others.

Simple help of others is the bedrock of anyone who follows Christ and it is an ethical and moral basis for any serious religion since the dawning of humanity. Whether you are Buddhist showing others acts of compassion or Muslim fulfilling Ramadan obligations in giving to the poor or a Sikhs practicing Wand Chakna our basic human religious instincts know that in striving toward our source and creator always begins with how we treat each other.

This is why I think that at the center of the mission of the Boy Scouts of America that prepares young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes is this line in the Scout Oath: To help other people at all times. It is central to their message in bring up boys as well.

We know that this is more than the cartoon character of the Boy Scout standing on the corner, always prepared to help the old lady cross the road. This is something much deeper. It is selfless service to others.

Here at the Palisades Community Church we have made it a central mission to help, build up and support others outside our small faith community. We have been extraordinarily successful at our endeavors. We have started a preschool for our neighborhood’s benefit, our Unity garden is used by many in the community and commemorates loved ones throughout the area, we have many organizations like the boy scouts that use our facilities and we give financially to many local organizations that provide help to those in our community with need. One other way we have helped has been through concerts like the Wonderful Children of the Gospel Choir and this Friday’s upcoming Folk Concert with Bill Mallonee. There is one other way that we help others that is very dear to my heart. That is our help to those we may never see across oceans or in other lands. We have helped orphans in Ghana and Kilimanjaro and supported Church World Services work across the globe. If you want to see an excellent example of a person who serves others we don’t need to look any further than Polly Johnson, the person who is honored this morning.

It is good for us to reflect upon this others during this season. In our calendar it is Lent, the forty-day march toward the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This has been historically a time of reflection, repentance and regeneration for the church as a whole.

This year I have decided that looking outward toward helping others is the best way for us to get a clear perspective on our problems and us. That is why I have set up as a fundraising project for our congregation to Help the International Council of Community Church’s missionary Ruth Applewhite. Ruth has worked diligently in Haiti for 35 years to help set up schools to train kids skills that will help save them from poverty. Without these Christian Training Institutes of Haiti Schools these children would face choices that we might consider unfathomable. Unfortunately, during the current earthquake both her school and church were destroyed. We as a congregation are going to make a commitment to help her and the Haitian Men and Women she serves to help rebuild from the rubble. I encourage everyone here to give liberally to this vital ministry.

So, think about the Scout oath: To help others at all times. Think about the golden rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Remember that James has said: Faith without works is dead. Remember Christ’s admonition: When you did to the least of these you did it unto me. Think of all the ways that serving others brings you back to right behavior in other areas of your life. There is not greater goal than turning your life into service for others. You will never regret it and in the act of doing will be your greatest reward.

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