Last week, I made a plea to all side involved in protesting the funeral
of S/Sgt Asbury Fred Hawn II to stay home Saturday and allow the family to grieve in peace.
Those pleas were largely ignored by Fred Phelps and his congregations of nutballs, but I have to admit I'm very proud of the middle Tennessee area for showing up
with flags, words of encouragment and support and prayers for Hawn's family during this difficult time. And it's a great relief to note that there were apparently no major conflicts during the funeral for Hawn. Yes, it sounds like there was some tension there, but it doesn't sound like boiled over as it could easily have.
Reading the article about the show of support for Hawn and for our troops, I was pleasantly suprised to see the names of some people I recognized from church in the story. One in particular is one of the youth who is in my Sunday School class and I work with in the small group that I co-lead.
Cayce Sweeny, 15, is a member of the First United Methodist Church youth group. He carried a sign reading "God Loves S/Sgt. Hawn."
"It's to support the troops," he said.
I am continually impressed with the teenagers at my church. I know there are some people who dismiss teens as being loud, disruptive and unruly. Oh my goodness-they show up for church in t-shirts and jeans! We can't have that.
But really, does that matter? Not really. Now if they were showing up in Marilyn Manson shirts that might be a different issue.
But the thing is--I am continually amazed at the depth of compassion, love and human decency our youth can show. I know a group went out to support a hurting church family member and our troops this weekend. Also, a few months ago in Sunday School, we were talking about what kind of material they'd like to cover. A few days earlier, a girl they knew who occasionally came to our church had passed away. The youth wanted to do something to honor her memory and to let the family know they were loved during their time of loss. I have to admit I left Sunday School that day with a lump in my throat, proud of these youth who wanted to do something to help a grieving family.
This is one of the reasons during the past few weeks when I've been tempted to tell the education committee where to stick it about the Sunday School material that I haven't. See, here's my little secret--I learn more from them than they do from me. Oh sure, there are days when it's a blank stare and it's like pulling teeth to get them to talk...but there are other days where you find something that engages their interest and the conversation and I am just amazed and proud of our youth. It's why I enjoy teaching Sunday School and it's why I fight hard to defend them to the nay-sayers and detracters.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/29/2005 07:32:00 AM