Friday, December 02, 2005



Tonight was my first night with the youth group at Hermitage UMC. It actually went really well. On Monday I met with our Christian Ed. Director, Linda, who told me that she was planning on doing an Advent program for tonight that was going to be intergenerational. She wanted it to be based around the music of Advent. So I told her that I would be in charge of shaping it into a more experiential alt. style worship time. Linda was excited because she said that many of the people at Hermitage had not experienced something like this before and that it would be really new for them.

Well that may have made her excited, but I was nervous. We called the experience THE WALK OF THE MAGI based around the idea that the magi must have travelled a really long time following the star before they made it to the house of the Christ child. They really had no idea where they were going, they just simply followed the star.

We had A LOT of youth there and a great mix of adults, as well. So we began with Linda talking about what Advent is.

Then I invited them to the first prayer room: EXPERIENCE 1: “THE TIME IS NEAR”
1. First two stanzas of “People, Look East” UMH 202 is sung
2. Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-11
3. Experiental Meditation
4. Last 2 stanzas of “The Time is Near” is sung
5. As people exit they take a glow in the dark star


Items needed: roll of newsprint, markers, plastic glow in the dark stars

Invite participants to make a list of all the things they have to “get done” between now and Christmas… they should write directly onto the newsprint anywhere they want.

Once they have finished that list they should then make a new list- one that lists things that they might do to prepare for Christ’s arrival- prayer, fasting, serving the poor, etc… etc…

As they leave the experience invite them to take a plastic glow in the dark star as a symbol throughout Advent that God has called them to follow the star.

1. First two stanzas of “Send Your Word” UMH 195 is sung
2. Reading: Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
3. Experiential Meditation
4. Last 2 stanzas of Send Your Word sung.
5. Magi leads everyone out of experience and to continue following the star


Items needed: sharpy markers and plastic glow in the dark stars from first station.

At this station the practice of Lectio Divina will the central activity. Allow the participants a few minutes to center in, and then 1. read the scripture passage slowly once and invite the participants to listen for a word or phrase that jumps out at them. Ask them to then simply to “hang out with that word or phrase”. 2. Read the passage again and this time ask them to imagine a life experience where that word or phrase is involved- what do they see, hear, feel, taste, smell? 3. Read the passage again and ask them to simply ask God to give them insight on how they might live out this word or phrase during Advent. 4. Invite them to write their word or phrase on their star and to take it with them.

1. First two verses of “O come, O come, Emmanuel” UMH 211 sung
2. Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8- 15
3. Experiential Meditation
4. Sharing of experience along with joys and concerns
5. Closing Benediction


Items needed: playdough

Invite participants to imagine what they hope the world to be like one day. Using clay invite them to create a symbol of their hope for the world.

It ended up going very well and I was really impressed at how receptive the youth were to the contemplative aspect of what we did. I ended by relating the magi journey to our journey together- that none of us knows quite where God is going to lead us but that we're all on this journey together and that's part of the fun (and anxiety) of being where we are in this.

I'm really looking foward to Sunday night and getting to know them all a bit more.




gavin richardson said...

i'm surprised they were receptive to it. we were a good old gang of contemplatives when i left back in july. i love those kids, they rock

SLY said...

I feel so much closer to you and gavin both now that all 3 of us have spent time at Hermitage UMC. That was my first full time position and I do love that church family. I have wonderful memory's. Of course, all my youth from there have graduated...or at least should have!!


John Wilks said...

Sounds like an awesome night!

Since I've been at my current church, I've been trying to incorporate more and more of these kinds of worship experiences into our programing. It has come at a high cost- several folks here want a program that looks like something from the 70s and 80s where we do nothing but play Poop Deck for a half hour followed by me giving a Bible study that boils down to "don't do drugs, stay in school."

But the change in some of our students in that time has been wonderful.

Last night, for the heart of our time together, I lead them into a candle-lit room with an Advent wreath in the center and chairs making a circle around it. We sang a worship chorus, opened in prayer, and then we talked about the Exile and what it means to wait on God and hoe finding hope in God requires an honesty about where we're at in life. Then, I had them right letters to God just like they once wrote letters to Santa. I asked them to tell God about their hopes and fears, about what is good in their lives and what is painful. I invited them to ask God for guidance or change in any and every area of their life they liked.

It may well have been one of the best nights we've had since I've been here. They really got into it. I had made up stationary for the night and brought in a cd w/ contemplative music. I wound up giving out my extra stationary to students who want to do more of these letters at home as part of their daily prayers and I had a student beg for the cd because there was something in one of the songs that just seemed like a message from God just for her.

I'm not sure I buy into everything coming out of the Emergent movement, but I am very thankful for it all the same. This rediscover of experimental worship practices is greatly needed and highly effective. I hope it continues to change the way churches do youth ministry and when I leave youth work behind and get appointed to my own church, I plan to incorporate such ideas into worship for all ages.

Jonathon, you've really helped inspire me to explore these avenues more and more. I'm glad you're blogging and publishing, my brother. God is using what you do in more ways than you probably know.

Ciona said...

That sounds amazing, Jonathan! I second John's thoughts: glad you're blogging and publishing!

St.Phransus said...

thanks john and ciona!! i'm really glad to discover that our youth culture is open to these kinds of experiences and actually seem to hunger for it. its definitely the kind of stuff that i dig (and dig planning).

i believe wholeheartedly that if we share the "story" of Christ, invite them into the story, and teach them the traditions/liturgy that kids will be shaped and formed more in the reflection and spirit of God.

i'm humbled right now.

Zoomdaddy said...

The impish unsaved pot-smoking teenager voice inside me says, "Dude, some bud would truly make this experience awesome."

But in all seriousness, it seems like something cool.

St.Phransus said...

who knows, for some it probably would heighten the whole experience a tad. maybe a strong dose of qualudes for the seventh grade boys would calm then long enough to experience the stations :)

way too tongue and cheek,

Zoomdaddy said...

too funny!!!

see-through faith said...

ooh I loved this post :)

wish I was a) young and b) in armitage

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