Monday, December 3, 2012

Chasing the Son...Right Into the Public Domain

"And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God."  Luke 12:8-9, ESV

The Christian presence in the public arena is slowly disappearing.  Last year, an atheist group from Wisconsin succeeded in forcing Ellwood City to either take down a creche displayed at the city hall, or put up displays of other religions, including a banner proclaiming their atheist view.  The Ellwood City display was one of the last remaining such displays on public property in the country.  The public schools have "winter break" and "fall break" now, instead of Christmas or Thanksgiving vacation.  Consumerism has intruded into Thanksgiving, bringing an early end to the thanks in order to get some extra shopping time. 

So when I received a packet from Trib media, advertising a lip dub video contest, I thought it might be a good idea for our student council to tackle.  I figured they could pick a good, Christian song with a solid message that fits our purpose of glorifying God, let the students have some fun, and some practical experience scripting and choreographing a video to fit the lyrics, and enter the contest with something that was consistent with our "distinctively Christian" atmosphere and purpose, and which testified to our faith in Jesus. 

But after looking at the contest rules, the plans had to change.  Because we would be producing and downloading a video, for copyright license purposes, we had to choose from a pre-selected list of songs, all of which were secular in nature.  That created some complications.  Within the Christian community, whenever you do something like this, there is always someone who is willing to point out what is wrong with it, and why it is not consistent with your purpose, mainly because it is not consistent with their purpose.  Music style, and any kind of creative or media expression, are equally sensitive topics in Christian circles as are politics and basic doctrine.  Down the road, many of our students are going to experience that sort of thing if they take any leadership role in the church at all.  And so it raised the question of whether we want to expose them to that sort of thing now. 

That's nothing more than fear.  But so many, many times, when there is an opportunity to share a message about our faith, however brief, and by whatever means, we are paralyzed by fear, and we don't do it.  And then, on the other side of the fear equation is the thought that we may be intruding, and overdoing it, and getting too "religious" or too "preachy" by taking a secular song, re-interpreting it with a Christian message and going out into public with it.  That's also a form of paralyzing fear. 

But the faculty student council sponsor is a teacher who clearly understands the mission and purpose of our school, and some of the students involved understand it too.  And in the course of working out what they were going to do, they developed and scripted a plan for the video that put a clear, simple message about our faith resting in "the Son," and about our pursuit of him.  So the one question that had to be asked, and answered, was, "Will this video show that the mission and purpose of our school is to glorify God, and lift up Jesus?"  And in a very simple, straighforward way, it does. 

The length of the song leaves a little over three minutes to get the message across.  Can the gospel be preached in three minutes?  I think that was definitely enough time for our students to accomplish their mission, make it clear that Jesus is the way we follow, and glorify God.  I'm an adult born well before the video generation came along, and so I'm not really good at picking things up in video set to music, and I had to watch it several times to "get it."  But there are fifteen schools in this contest, fourteen public and one Christian, and I would guess that most everyone involved in making the video for their school watched everyone elses, including ours, at least once.  Since we got some comments about making our video to "fit" our school, I can conclude that some people got the message. 

I'm sure there were some who rolled their eyes, some who thought that we should keep our Christian faith on our campus and inside our churches, and some who ridiculed what we did.  And there were probably some who thought that putting our Christian message into it was a tactic to get sympathetic votes.  But from some of the comments that were left, there were definitely people who not only got it, but were appreciative of the fact that it was there.  One pointed out that what the students did with the lyrics, and the way they arranged the video, fit our school very well.  Then there was this comment:

"You make chasing the Son look like so much fun." 

I hope a whole lot of people, especially among those high school students from the other schools who most certainly watched the video, got at least that much out of it.

You can still vote for it through December 6 at midnight.  Here's the URL:

 http://tribweb.upickem.net/engine/Welcome.aspx?contestid=65062