Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday's Essay - A Needed Identity

Below is an essay that I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can hear a podcast of this message by going to the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal


Image result for different high school cliques
About ten years ago, I was a high school teacher. And I noticed something that happened to nearly every young person I taught. During the four years they were at Buckingham High, almost all my students acquired some kind of identity that shaped both their actions and attitudes. It also determined those who would be they’re closest friends and the people who would offer them a set of values and whom they would try to emulate.  For some, they’d already started this process during middle school, but for others, it was brand new. I’ll tell you, it was almost a rite of passage. For example, a lot of kids identified themselves with the sports they were playing. They became football or basketball or softball players, and older athletes would have a large impact on their values and expectations. A lot of good students identified themselves with academics and intellectuals, and those who had musical, artistic or dramatic abilities saw themselves as artists and performers. And there were others who identified with the spiritual and religious, and they tended to form their own group, often focused on how sacred scripture and preachers might give them a set of rules by which they could live. Of course, there are many other identities that drew young people, and even though they all carried inherent dangers, most of the kids who found one of these more standard personas did just find. The young people at most risk, though, were those who really had no identity to which they could gravitate. Sadly, these were often the one’s who tended to meander through their young lives or to acquire outsider identities that didn’t actually reflect who they were but which they claimed because they had no where else to go and no one else to follow. Now that’s what I saw when I was teaching.

Image result for boy scoutsAnd the reason I mention all this is directly connected to the focus of our worship service on Sunday. You see, we’ll recognize and celebrate our Boy Scout program here at Cove, something that I believe can go a long way to address this identity issue young people face. You see, along with so much more, boy scouting offers young men a group within which they can find a home, one where athletic ability or academy standing or artistic talent isn’t an excluding factor. You see, a scout may possess all three and more, but that’s not a prerequisite to membership. Therefore, a Boy Scout troop becomes a fascinating collection of young people, from different backgrounds and possessing different skills and talents, united in a organization that reflects values rooted in tradition but responsive to the changing reality of life in the 21st century. This group and the principles of liberty, justice, tolerance, compassion, and faith become the source of their identity. And within the structure itself, they can find adult leaders, often the children of scouting themselves, whom these young men can follow. And unlike the athlete or the performer who identifies with a person whom they’ll probably never meet, scouts can learn from and get to know people on a weekly basis who can offer personal guidance and support when it’s may be most needed. And even though this can and does offer a home for every boy, this is particularly important for those young people who are struggling to find where they fit in an increasingly segmented world. For them, they can find there identity here, within the scouting program.

Personally, I’m proud to be involved with a congregation that supports scouting. And let me encourage anyone who has a young boy or girl to contact the church office so that they might become involved in a program that offers an identity that just may shape the rest of their lives.

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