Every Christian life week camp is based around Bible study. As Lutherans we are dedicated to getting our truth from scripture. Some years the studies have been around things like how to live as Christians but this year we went back to fundamentals. This year on CLW Week A, the young people were asked to look at different Bible stories and different heroes of the faith. And it is interesting to see what all the heroes of the faith have in common.
All the heroes of the Bible needed other heroes. They were all just human like us. And really when it comes down to it none of the human heroes of the Bible can change our lives. So it means that these heroes were listed as more than just examples for us of courage or good behavior as most of them at one time or another acted terribly.
We place too big a burden on them if we expect them just to be an example to us. The Bible is not just a book of examples, it is not just a book of teaching, it is the story of a savior.
The power to transform does not come from within us.
The power to transform comes from outside of us, and this power is called the gospel.
This is where the two weeks of Christian Life week camps this winter at Koojarewon have a lot in common.
Both weeks had different studies, written by different people, but both of these studies ended up with the transformative power of the gospel. It is no it is no surprise that they both end up in the same place.
in week one (week A) the young people looked at their own stories and where they fit in. They looked at how has God transformed their story. They also looked at stories in the Bible where God transformed lives.
In week b the young people went right back to fundamentals and looked at sin, the cross, the resurrection and ended in the same place with the gospel: the good news, the story that transforms. In fact, they were taught to use the tool of repentance and daily to put to death the habitual sins and bad habits that don’t look like they belong to a child of God and don’t look like Jesus and then to claim the resurrection new life as they ask God to fill this space in their lives and to do this day after day. This is what the church has always called sanctification. If we remove the parts of us that we don’t like and fill them with something else that is human we don’t change and the truth is that we simply don’t have the power to change ourselves.
As far as example goes, I am not transformed by the life of Odysseus in homer’s Iliad and odyssey. I’m not transformed by the story of Maximus in the movie Gladiator, I am not transformed or somehow made a better person by Frodo or Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. All of the heroes that we have, needed a hero like we do. Every hero in the Bible needs to be transformed by the hero of heroes, and they are. Their stories are all brought together and all makes sense in Jesus.
In Jesus and in the power of the good news of the gospel the free and full forgiveness of sins, we are transformed from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from being lost to being found, from being mortal and fallen to the place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain, from weakness to strength, from darkness to light, and I could go on and on, and so we do keep going on and on and we will keep going on and on and we will keep telling the story of the gospel. We tell it to young people year after year because it never stops transforming lives.
I would like you to stand if you have ever been to a Christian life week camp as a leader or camper or Camp parents or Grandparents. Now keep standing if you feel that these camps have had a part to play in the strength of your faith.
In other words, all of these people have all been transformed by the power of the Gospel lived, shared and loved in these camps. Not be the camps themselves, but because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now the purpose of this day Is not to raise these camps above everything else that we do in the Faith. They are not the only tool we have at our disposal. The last thing we want to do is to have a have and have-not class system of Faith, like you are only really alive in your faith if you have been to one of these camps.
What makes us alive when we were dead? Remember, Jesus Christ, son of God, saviour. The Gospel message.
But today we do want to celebrate what a gift God has given us in these camps, and how many young and older people have been built up in their faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through them.
And today we want to thank all of you. As I have said before, the decision taken years ago to support all our young people here in the financial expense of going to these camps is a landmark one in the Lutheran Church. I don’t know of any other church that does this to the same extent. You all with your offerings given back to God through his church, are supporting the hearing of the gospel of salvation and touching lives in ways that you could never imagine.
Your decision to do this, and what happens at these camps, fit in so well with the Christ-centred, Spirit led, inclusive, witnessing and encouraging discipleship guiding principles of our church.
You are living out your faith in your support for your young people, and I believe that you are seeing the fruit of it come back to you over and over again, in so many ways.
I also believe that we would not put such an importance on doing this if it were just a social camp, or a way to get to know other young people. All these things happen to, but they are nice things to have in our lives. They don’t change lives like the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel, the Good news that there is a place for all of us in our father’s house, that death and sadness and pain are not the last word but that Jesus walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death and out the other side: this is the story that changes everything. This is the ONLY story that changes everything. This is the gospel.