So, there I was, giving away diamonds on the street corner, and I got no takers. Seriously, I’ve been trying to find United Methodist churches/Venturing units from all over the USA interested in carrying the UM banner to Philmont in 2012, and I’ve come up with a big goose egg. Now, Philmont is one of the premier experiences in all of Scouting. And I’ll bet you that next year, some of those who were asked will be complaining that they always wanted to go to Philmont, but they couldn’t get a reservation. Whaddya mean, we have to start planning two years ahead of time? Whaddya mean, there’s a lottery and you probably won’t get in when you want to?
I hadn’t planned on going back to Philmont so soon (we just went last year), but I guess I’ll take our Venturers again. And if anybody says, Hey, Art, you’re hogging the show, I’ll get to say, Well, you didn’t want it.
Oddly enough, I’ve had this experience before. In 2005, I took a group of Scouts and Venturers to the UK. We did the all-you-can-eat high adventure trip to Great Britain: Scotland, England, Wales, 3 mountains plus Stonehenge, Oxford, and London, all in 16 days for $1600. We invited the whole Conference. I was prepared to take twelve (maybe more); we took eight youth and adults, six of them from my Crew.
Then, in 2006, I was taking a group to Tanzania for a Scouting mission trip. This was a nationwide invitation, on behalf of NAUMS. Two weeks in Africa for $2400, with scholarships available to help. Deanne and I took two (2) youth. Because I promised, and my promises mean something to me.
But if you think that’s mind-boggling, we offer eternal life, forgiveness of sins, peace and happiness EVERY SUNDAY — for free! and I don’t see people beating down our doors to get in on it. But that’s the way it’s always been. Even Jesus couldn’t figure it out.
It’s tempting, of course, when you don’t get the response you expect, to start asking, Well, what DO you want? and then try to offer that. But that way leads to the Church becoming a club, where we cater primarily to the members’ comfort. When that happens, the Church is transformed to be like its members, rather its members being transformed to be like Christ. And there are lots of big, shiny congregations that are successfully accomplishing very little for God. They have their reward.
But still, there’s always somebody who wants what God offers, and they’re who we’re here for. They may not have a lot to give back to us for the attention we lavish on them. They may not have much money or leadership ability or what-have-you. But when the Day of the Lord comes, they will shine like the sun as they reflect the Light of Christ, and they will speak for us, who shared that Light with them. And we will be glad, since we may need them in that Day far more than they need us.