Tuesday, December 25, 2007

All Wrapped Up

Pastor was delivering his last chapel sermon to the students in school before Christmas break. He was describing Baby Jesus in the manger wrapped in swaddling cloths, and linking that to the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus was laid in a place where animals eat, and we eat of His Body and Blood in the bread and wine at the altar. “There was Baby Jesus,” he said, “all wrapped up like a burrito.”

Afterward one of my students said to me, “In Baptism we are like burritos, too. We are all wrapped up in Jesus.”

That’s a pretty fair exposition of Gal. 3:27.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Word Games

A student in Richmond, VA, has the ACLU on her side. They say she is facing unconstitutional censorship for being asked to cover up, remove, turn around, or otherwise hide a t-shirt she was wearing. The shirt, claims the student, is her favorite. It has a logo on it, two female symbols intertwined. Its lesbian overtones are important because the student declares herself to be a lesbian. Obliterating the message of the t-shirt is said to be silencing the political message “that lesbian identity should be celebrated and is a source of pride.”

"I don't feel like I should have to hide my sexuality," said the girl who was asked to hide her t-shirt. The ACLU agrees and is fast approaching court-speed against the teacher and the school on this one.

Give me a break. The girl wasn’t asked to strap down her breasts or stuff a rolled up pair of socks in her pants. She wasn’t asked to make herself appear to be something she clearly wasn’t. Her femaleness and what that mean with regard to sexual functioning was abundantly apparent whether she wore her favorite lesbian t-shirt or one with Hannah Montana on it. She’s a girl, for pity’s sake. She admits to that. Doesn’t run from it at all. It’s a God-given, created-in-the-womb, unalterable fact. She’s a she.

The school rules are simple: "The school's dress code prohibits 'bawdy, salacious or sexually suggestive messages.'" That would seem to include iconic symbols indicating a student's personal (and what ought to be private) preference regarding sexual intercourse. If not, I can imagine all sorts of icons that would eventually be allowed representing the same. At what point does an iconic symbol become political instead of merely bawdy or sexually suggestive? When it's homosexual instead of heterosexual? The irony is, homosexuals won the constitutional right to live together as a couple without legal incrimination in Texas by arguing that the government has no right to pry into the bedroom. Now why are the activities of the bedroom a political statement to be proudly displayed on the chest rather than one's own personal privacy? Is the defining line only when one wants to make a statement about one's homosexuality or lesbianism?

Is it possible that the incidence of free speech is being unfairly tipped toward a certain sector of society? If so, then there is more at play here than one woman’s right to free speech regarding her chosen style of sexual intercourse. What of the rights of other students to express their "political rights" regarding their preferences in sexual intercourse—such as misogyny? That one still exists in the minds and hearts of every male informed by and subscribing to the siren call of today’s media. Males are taught to bed as many women in and out of wedlock as they can. That’s the highest disregard for the welfare of women and any sacred duties of fatherhood. So how about a symbol of the male sign interlaced with several female signs?

Now let’s not leave the ladies out. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and her younger sister, Jamie Lynn, have given a whole new interpretation to the model young woman. Marriage is passé. Bedding men early, often, and as publicly as possible is the new propriety. Women have learned to use men as well as men have used women. Call it misandrony for lack of a better word and in want of something that sounds fancy. So for these women, let’s fashion ourselves a female symbol with a whole mess of male symbols intertwined—and don’t forget the little tiny male and female “hangers-on” indicating the babies that come from these various unions.

Does anyone suppose t-shirts of these sorts would be viewed as political and not sexual? We could even get more specific. My granddaughter’s friend is pregnant at 16. She’s tried every sort of sex. Her t-shirt would include not just male intertwinings, but also female. I’m not certain she has yet decided what her so-called "sexual identity" is, even though it is obvious by her swollen belly that God knows what it is.

Word games. That’s what it is. Word games to hide, obfuscate or otherwise confuse the issue. God created sex. Sexuality comes from the sex God created and gives to each of us. Ripped from that realm, sexuality is an abusive tool used against our neighbor and ourselves. The word games are necessary to hide that sin. God’s work to bring us to repentance is a miracle in itself.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Who's Coming to Town?

“It’s like the song, ‘You better not pout, you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town.’”

The kid is what we lovingly call “a mess.” Homework at his level is fairly rote: Spelling, Math, History Litany (a chronological list of events with dates and scripture references), and Reading. Each day he’ll write it down in his student planner. The Math and Spelling pages go into his Homework folder, the one with the green sheets on which the litany is printed so he can copy it out. Each day he’ll leave school with his student planner stuffed inside his desk, or left on top of it. The next morning he’ll have an excuse for why his homework isn’t completed—usually in the form of someone else to blame, or “I forgot.” To be fair, this is a problem he is lately overcoming with a mighty effort. He has done himself proud at completing his homework for the past two weeks.

“I forgot” is his favorite excuse. Not paying attention is his favorite pastime. He’s had to be moved away from any window in the classroom. The temptation to gaze outside is too great. His desk was once turned sideways to the room. He spent so much time with his head on his hand lost in dreamland it was the only hope of getting him to look toward the front of the room and the board where the lesson is going on. During Latin Pastor will gently bring him back to the game with a song, “One of these boys is not like the others; one of these boys doesn’t belong. One of these boys isn’t on the same page; one of these boys isn’t playing along.”

Yet here we were, engaged in a conversation on the end times. The chapel reading that week was Luke 21:25-36. The changing seasons alert us to when summer is near. In the same way, distresses upon the earth—among nations, between people, and in the weather—signal changes of another sort. Some will become faint with fear. Others will expend their lives foolishly. But Jesus says to do none of these things. Instead He says to look up, “For your redemption is near.” Jesus reminds us to put our hope in that which is real: Himself.

With the insight and sanctified memory of an eight-year-old, my mess of a student said, “It’s like the song, ‘You better not pout, you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town.’ Jesus is coming with His Gifts of Baptism and His Body and Blood. So we don’t have anything to worry about when the world is falling apart.” And this one knows a good deal about worlds falling apart.

Little things this one forgets, like homework. Big things he remembers, like chapel sermons from his pastor. Pastor uses the “Santa Claus is coming to town” illustration every year at this time to bring home the point of difference between what Christ gives and what the world gives at Christmas.

What is Math and History compared to what the Holy Spirit teaches this one at school? This child is a precious treasure, wrapped in Christ and fed by His Word.