This past weekend I had the great privilege to be a part of an amazing event in the lives of 10 young men. I was asked by a young man in our high school group if I would present him at Eagle Court, the ceremony where he and nine other Boy Scouts receive their Eagle Scout honors. Truth be told, I had no clue that Boy Scouts still existed until two years ago when I moved to this community so this was a whole new world for me to be a part of and I was amazed by what I saw.
For the better part of 4 hours I saw fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and mentors speak affirmation and blessing over the whole body of work that represented each of these 10 Eagle Scouts’ work to get to where they were. Yet there was something more to what was being said of each young man than just listing their accomplishments. With each presentation and affirmation, whether spoken in front of the audience of about 200 people or spoken privately in the courtyard afterwards, these adults were speaking into the future identity of who they believed these young men were going to be from this day forward. It was a time for blessing, but it was also a time of commissioning.
Henri Nouwen wrote this in his book Life of the Beloved:
“To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness. And more than that: To give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks.”
Here’s two things that have been revealed or reaffirmed in me after being a part of last weekend’s Eagle Court.
Parenting must be done in community. There were so many adults who invested into each of these young men to help them get to where they were able to receive their Eagle Scout. I heard so many parents publicly thanking troop leaders and other parents of scouts for filling in all the gaps that even the best parents still can’t fill in raising their kids. This is true for Scouts as well as in Christianity. As parents we desire that our kids’ faith sticks with them for a life time and the best way to do that is through the utilization of the “aunts, uncles and grandparents” in our faith communities. Fuller Youth Institute has done some amazing work to help parents and faith communities be more equipped and empowered to build a sticky faith within the kids of our families.
I desire for everyone to be a Creationist. I’ve been working with teenagers for nearly eight years now and the ceremonies of this past weekend reaffirmed the importance of what Nouwen speaks about in terms of blessing. When we speak intentional, sincere, and truthful blessing over teenagers we create a reality for them to believe and live into.
When I was a junior in high school I played half a season of JV football before a back injury sidelined me and ended hopes of play football senior year. Even though I never missed a practice or game I often did so out of a feeling of obligation to a commitment not out of love for my team or situation. At the end of the season I went to the awards banquet knowing I wouldn’t receive anything but what I did received that night was greater than any “Letter” or trophy I’ve ever received. My position coach called me up in front of everyone near the end of the banquet and spoke of my integrity, sportsmanship, and diligence as something that the rest of the team should strive for because even though I couldn’t play I never missed a practice or a game and always supported the efforts of my teammates. Though I had never though of it that way, his words created a belief in me that these things were true about who I was. For the next year and a half of high school I worked hard to be a man of integrity, sportsmanship, and diligence because someone knew that to be true about me.
I see these Creationist attributes in the character of God. When God creates something, he calls it good. When Jesus was beginning his ministry, he spoke a public and audible blessing saying, “This is my son of whom I’m well pleased.” This was before Jesus had even done any “ministry”! I pray that we can all become people who speak blessings over each other on a regular basis knowing that in doing so we are actively creating room for the realities of the Kingdom to take shape in the lives of those who God created as good.
What is one of the greatest blessings you have ever received? Who spoke that blessing over you? What made it so significant?