Baden Powell Sunday; Celebrating Firsts

This morning we have placed 24 red and yellow flowers in this space  … 24 because that is our group number: we are 24th Kitchener. The red roses and yellow carnations, along with their green leaves and stems are the 3 colours of our group necker.  Every Scouting group has one – it is part of your official scout uniform. We all wear the same uniforms no matter where we live in Canada – so Cubs in Alberta will be wearing the same coloured shirt as Cubs in Ontario, but our neckers are unique to our group. So the combination of gold, red & green is very special to the 24th Kitchener Scouting family.


The flowers that proudly display our group colours this morning are placed in loving memory of leaders, or Scouters as we call them, who have passed away … they have “gone home”… but the lessons they taught us, the laughter they brought us, and the difference they made in so many lives lives on … and so we take this time today, to remember them and to give thanks for their contributions to the Scouting movement.

Candle lighting prayer

“Stars that shine together form a galaxy. Buildings that stand together begin a city. People who work together make a difference.

The Scouting movement is one that sees people of all ages … from all walks of life … from every language and culture and religion around the world come together in brotherhood & sisterhood to live out a value system based on a promise and law with a common goal…. to help build a better world, where people are self-fulfilled as individuals, and can give back to society in a positive way … each one using their own gifts.

The movement welcomes diversity ….. our differences ….. different languages, religions and traditions.  We are richer, and stronger, because of those differences.”

Light the first candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all of the people who are older or younger, taller or smaller, richer or poorer than we are.”

Light the second candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all people who worship differently than we do.”

Light the third candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all people of a different nationality or background than ours.”

Light the fourth candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all people who are of a different color than we are.”

Light the fifth candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all people from all countries all over the world.”

Light the sixth candle
“We light this candle in friendship for all people who don’t run, walk, see, hear, or learn the same way we do.”

Light 7th Candle
“We light the last candle for everyone here today. Each one of us is unique and special.”

“As you watch the flames, notice that the light from each candle is the same as the others even though the outside of each candle is different. So, too, are all of us in the world. We wear different clothes, speak different languages, follow different religions or beliefs, we like different foods and sing different songs. And yet, we all belong to the same human race. And we share a common responsibility – to take care of this world ….to leave it a little better than we found it…..and to take care of each other.


One day God said, “There is still much to do. Your task is to build a better world”.

“How can I do that? The world is so big, and so complicated. And I am so smallI don’t think there’s anything I can do.”

“Just build a better you.”

I’ve already started. I joined Scouts.


Opening Message

How many of you are familiar with the game “Never Have I Ever “ … here’s how it works … at least, here’s how WE’RE going to do … there’s an adult version that involves alternate beverages that wouldn’t be appropriate in a Scouting church service … so, here are the rules for today ….:

You’re going to use your 10 fingers as counters. I am going to make a statement starting with “Never Have I Ever”, and if at any point in your life, you’ve actually done that thing, then you put a finger down.

So for example, if I say “Never have I ever gone swimming with polar bears”, and you’ve never gone swimming with polar bears, you don’t put a finger down. If you HAVE gone swimming with polar bears, then a finger goes down. Easy, right? Ok, let’s give it a try

Never have I ever … participated in a skit
Never have I ever … gone winter camping
Never have I ever … slept in a barn
Never have I ever … gone canoeing
Never have I ever … beat on a car with a sledgehammer
Never have I ever … fired a bottle rocket
Never have I ever … earned my flashlight card
Never have I ever … had apple crisp for breakfast
Never have I ever eaten something that I cooked, by myself, over a fire
Never have I ever … gone to the bathroom in an outhouse
Never have I ever … put my cub leader’s underwear up the flag pole (somebody check to make sure Scouter Jim put a finger down for that one)
Never have I ever … gone fishing
Never have I ever … set up a tent
Never have I ever … learned knife safety (can’t lie … haven’t)
Never have I ever … gone on a sleepover
Never have I ever … done something called cricket spitting …
Never have I ever … played Never Have I Ever in church …

In the real game “Never Have I Ever”, once all of your fingers are down …. So once 10 things have been named that you’ve actually done before …. You are out of the game. The winner would be the last remaining player with a finger still raised ….

But this morning, I want us to look at it a little differently. Every time you put a finger down, it means you tried something .. and at one point, you did that something for the very first time. You went winter camping for the very first time … you went on a sleepover for the very first time … you ate your own cooking for the very first time … Every time you put your finger down in our game, you were celebrating things that you have done for the first time….and you should feel good about that. (ok, maybe not the underwear up the flag pole thing… but the rest of them, yes…)

Still have some fingers up? That’s ok! You now have a list of new things to try!

The list of “Never Have I Ever”s came from our Scouting members. We asked you to tell us some of the things that you have experienced for the first time while in Scouting. We are always so quick to celebrate when we come in First at something … like First place in the Kub Kar races (way to go Spencer!) … and we should celebrate those firsts …. But just as important … maybe even more important ….today we want to celebrate the things we try for the very first time.

110 years ago, Robert Baden Powell took a group of boys on a week-long camping trip. 21 boys from all different backgrounds went camping on Brownsea Island, off the coast of England. That very first camping trip is where the whole Scouting movement started. 110 years later, we’re still here. We’re still Scouting. We’re still experiencing things for the first time.

And, with that in mind, I’m going to invite our Beaver Scouts to come up. They have put together a song that celebrates some of the things they have done for the first time while in Beavers.


We have yet another First to celebrate this morning. I’m going to invite Rev Chris Fickling to join me … for those who haven’t met him yet, Rev Chris is our new minister here at St. James’-Rosemount .. he started with us in July of last year, so this is his very first 24th Kitchener Baden Powell service …in his younger days, Rev Chris was a Beaver, and a Cub, and then a Scout, and I’ve asked him to share a memory or two of some of his “firsts”….


 There are things that you try for the first time that may lead you to want to do them again … like canoeing, having your first real Christmas tree, helping your neighbor, attending jamborees, playing crokinole, eating apple crisp for breakfast.

And there are things you will experience for the first time that you probably would really rather not ever do again …like breaking your arm at camp … or using an outhouse … or eating liver (yuck!!)….

And that’s ok. Every time you try something for the first time, you grow a little. You change a little.

Celebrate that…because our experiences in life – the first times, and the repeats, and the “never ever again”s help make you who you are today. And who you are today really is worth celebrating!


You won’t remember this, but the first time you ever tried to walk, when you were just a wee person, you fell down.

The very first time you went swimming, you couldn’t swim the full length of the pool.

The very first time you played baseball, you probably didn’t hit a home run. That’s ok; even the great ones strike out. Last year the amazing Josh Donaldson …darling of the Toronto Blue Jays …. struck out 119 times. Encarnacion? 138 stike outs ….

The very first time you played hockey, you probably didn’t score a goal. That’s ok; consider the Toronto Maple Leafs …do you know they turn 100 this year? And they haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 50 years … that’s longer than some of the people in this room have been alive!!! ….But every year, they put together a full team; and every year the players get paid a crazy amount of money to play a game…that they don’t win very much …. And every year, fans pay a ridiculous amount of money to go their games …and watch them not win very much ….

Taking that first step, that first swing, that first taste, that first canoe stroke…lighting that first fire on your own…packing your own camp bag for the first time … forgetting your camp dishes for the first time …they all matter. Without that first time, there won’t be another one…..there won’t be that chance to learn, to grow….Who knows, that “first” time might lead to something that you will enjoy doing for the rest of your life….

Every year, we send you home with something that will remind you of this service. Today, we’re sending you home with something that we hope will remind you to Celebrate your firsts …..


You are never too old for firsts. In fact, without even thinking about it, you experience a “First” every single day. Take today for example.

When you woke up this morning, for the first and ONLY time, you had Sunday, February 26, 2017 ahead of you. Never again will you have this day to experience. It’s a first … and an only …

In his parting words, Lord Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, said this:

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. …..Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.

Give out happiness to other people.

Leave this world a better place than you found it.

Building a better You helps you do that.

And celebrating our firsts is an excellent place to start!


Closing Prayers     

Creator Spirit, We Thank You todayfor the lives of Lord and Lady Baden Powell; for all the friends, the fun and adventures we have in Scouting; for the beauty of the world and all the marvelous things you have made in nature; for our homes, our parents, our leaders, this church, and everyone who look after us.

Help us to always remember that we are members of a world-wide organization; that every Beaver Scout, Cub Scout, Scout, Venturer Scout, Rover and Scouter has promised to love and serve you.

Great Teacher; teach us to be worthy of our uniform, to be strong and stand up for what is right. Help us to do our best in your service, and to be true to our Scouting promise always.

We pray today for the people who are sick, the people who are lonely, and the people who don’t have enough. Help us to see ways to make our community, our country, and our world a place where all people enjoy good food and shelter, good friendships and peace–where all people have a fair share of the things they need to be healthy and happy and truly alive. Help us to act on what we see needs to be done.

Bless each of us now as we go out into the world, thankful that we have the freedom to experience so many things for the first time, thankful that we have the opportunity to learn every time we do something for the first time, thankful that we have so much to share with others.  Amen.


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