Teaching Youth

I'm planning for our next Confirmation class right now -- which will focus on the meaning of the Sacraments. I thought I would start with a little Buechner (whom I adore) and define what these things are. In his words,

A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside time.

Generally speaking, Protestants have two official sacraments (the Lord's Supper, Baptism) and Roman Catholics these two plus five others (Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony). In other words, at such milestone moments as seeing a baby baptized or being baptized yourself, confessing your sins, getting married, dying, you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life.

Needless to say, church isn't the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love.

Wait. Stop. Can I say that to 14 year olds? Making love? Have you heard about what is happening in Portland today? Let me clue you in. My grandmother sent me an email to ask what was wrong with my city. One of the middle schools wants to give out birth control to their students. I'm not kidding. Sometimes I wish I were. Read all about it here.

My confirmands are not middle schoolers. Nor do they attend this particular middle school on the other side of the bridge. But, can I say this? Really? The rest is so good. The whole thing is so good. I just love me some Buechner. See, it continues on page 101 of Wishful Thinking:

A high-school graduation.

See? See? That's relevant to kids -- even if they are freshman. Sorry. I'll stop interrupting. Buechner has the floor:

Somebody coming to see you when you're sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger's eyes and finding out he's not a stranger.

If we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.

Am I being blind as a bat? Is the whole city of Portland? Are our middle schoolers? Tricky territory, I tell you.


Songbird said...

I wonder if I'm going to finally get objecting comments on my reflection piece about it in the paper? I always figure I'll sound offensively liberal to someone, but I really haven't gotten any bad feedback up until now.

more cows than people said...

i think you could use it. making love is about more than having sex and if the kids don't know the expression it doesn't open a can of worms and if they do... well it is sacramental, right? and good to bring the sacred into an understanding of sexuality as early as possible, right? and it can open up a conversation about intimacy that it's never too early to have.

it's sad that middle schools are handing out birth control, but even when i was in middle school middle schoolers were having sex. not me, but... it was happening. so... it's happening. i wish our kids felt they could talk to their pastors about the decisions they're making or being asked to make.

maybe a quote will open a door.

sorry to ramble on and on.

i'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

LittleMary said...

today is friday. much love to you.

first, i used some of the buechner quote in my statement of faith and got my ass kicked when i was examined. this one guy in particulare HATED it and called me unorthodox. whatever.

and at least the making love part will help the kids understand that this can be sacramental, not just elementary screwing.

apbs said...

i'm an ass. when i first started to read, i was secretly, to my dismay, saying, "what can a ucc (you) and a presbyterian (fb) tell an episcopalian (me) about sacraments?" answer: tons. i'm not proud of myself' i'm just being honest. those kids are lucky to have you as their confirmation person. the "making love" comment is a tough call in my head-- to middle schoolers, i mean. might warrant some unpacking, but what do you say? i'll be interested in hearing what you end up doing. the book sounds good. would you recommend it as a whole?

thinking of you, too

Magdalene6127 said...

Pastor Peters, I say go for it. Buechner's list is gorgeous, and I agree that it's good to have the church be out in front with God's good gift of sexuality for a change.

And I approve of contraception being given to anyone who is sexually active. So, that's me.

Pastor Peters said...

i could probably learn something from you apbs. i think that's what's so amazing about the sacraments. just when you figure out what it's about... you find something new.

i agree that making love is a tough call -- though i'm leaning toward using it. if we can't talk about it in church as something that could be a blessing then we're really in big trouble.

the expression itself is interesting. i was thinking about this after i posted. is it really sex? or could it be creating relationship? how does one make love? how do you build love? how do you create it? it's not just sex, is it?

Songbird said...

It's not just sex, although people will always hear it that way, or rather hear it is a "sweet" or romanticized way of referencing sex. Making love sounds like more to me; I'm thinking of the time I broke the glass in the dishwasher and Pure Luck picked up the million little pieces, right down to using double-sided duct tape to get the glass dust he could not even see. I never asked; he just did it. That's making love.
Okay, and so is sex, sometimes.