devozine

For Youth Workers Post

MY PLAYLIST

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for August 25–31, 2014.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“Music isn’t some shrink-wrapped product you buy at the store. Music is a human thing, a body thing, a spirit thing. You don’t have to play a musical instrument to join in the practice of making music. Simply listening to music or singing along with your friends is a way of sounding your life.

“Music is an incredible universal language, truly a gift from God. Sometimes when I’m moving to music, it’s as if time stands still. I’m so focused, so caught in the moment that the stresses of life and school just seem to disappear. I literally feel one with the universe.”

—Liz Marshburn, 17

(from Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teensedited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter)

 

“I have more music in my iTunes library than any sane person should. Before my last house move, I imported five moving boxes of CDs into my iTunes collection, which, if played end to end would take me almost sixty-eight days to play.

“My taste in music is pretty eclectic: ambient electronic, dance, heavy rock, grunge, hip hop, rap, roots, blues, and folk. I’ll give pretty much anything a go as long as it doesn’t involve Bieber, One Direction, DC Talk, or Miley Cyrus; and even then I might give it a go just once.

“Music has been a huge part of my life, and I use it as a kind of soundtrack. I set up playlists for different times of the year, moods, themes, artists, or road trips. I even started an irregular blog, looking at music and themes of faith.

“Playlists remind me a little of the lectionary. A regular playlist follows the seasons of the year and the important times of the community of faith. Similarly, the book of Psalms reminds me of a collation of some of the community’s favorite songs, songs that fit in with themes of loss, grief, confusion, celebration, and joy.

“This session explores our playlists and invites us to seek God in them.I’m in a Lectio Divina frame of mind this month. The use of Lectio to listen to music is a bit of a gamble. I’m hoping you don’t have to use the process with Bieber’s “Baby, Baby, Baby,” but then again that might be painfully fun.” —Darren

MEET THE WRITER

darrenDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker, serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Youth and Children’s Ministry Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, and furniture salesperson. His interests include music (Moby, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Muse, All India Radio), film (MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, The Avengers), TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community), theology, pop-culture, and working with young people in at-risk areas. He is particularly interested in how the church and theology connect with pop culture. See Darren’s blog.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • Invite group members to bring to the session a playlist of up to five songs that hold special meaning for them, songs that may link to special moments of their life. (I would suggest that the music not be specifically Christian unless that’s all they listen to.)
  • a candle and matches
  • Bibles
  • audio equipment to project music from players, phones, or CDs (speakers, cables, CD players, computers)
  • paper
  • pens
  • a bowl or hat
  • a copy of the film Music, by Andrew Zuckerman. The film is available with the purchase of the book of the same name or as an iTunes rental.
  • “Guidelines for Lectio Divina” from the Way to Live: Leader’s Guide, by Dorothy Bass and Don C. Richter, pages 7–8
  • more information on lectio divina from The Upper Room Living Prayer Center
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

If you want to develop this session in other ways, here are a few resources that may be of help.

BOOKS

VIDEOS

  • Music, by Andrew Zuckerman, the book and the film
           Breakdown of the film:
              Music 00:00 to 9:04
              Inspiration 9:04 to 18:45
              Collaboration 18:45 to 29:43
              Performance 29:44 to 37:27
              Success 37:28 to 50:20
  • Worship Songs” — N. T. Wright says, “The point of falling in love is like striking a match in order to light a candle with it. Candles are nowhere near as exciting as striking a match, but it sustains itself for much longer than a match if you care for it.”
  • Christian Music” — Singer songwriter Martyn Joseph answers questions about Christian music and Christian creative expression in general.
  • Dancing into Freedom” — The creative act of community is the public dance; it is art and prophetic vision.
  • My Neighbor’s Music” — Richard Twiss chats about the unity of the Trinity, our cultural preferences, and our incompleteness without our neighbor’s music.
  • Breaking the Silence” — What harm might come from starting with praise rather than arriving at praise through lament?
  • One Perfect Day — Tommy Matisse, a gifted musician, undertakes an odyssey of self-discovery and tragedy in Melbourne’s dance music scene. Though the movie is probably not for a youth group, it’s well worth a look if you have some spare popcorn at home over the weekend.

CHECKING IN

Depending on the time and resources you have, you might want to set up some music-themed decorations: vinyl records, cassette tapes, CD players, music posters, cupcakes with musical symbols on them. This session involves a lot of listening, so you’ll need to make sure the space is comfortable.

Welcome people as they arrive. When everyone is settled, light a candle and invite group members to read Psalm 100 as a prayer.

Play a clip (Music 00:00 to 9:04) from the film Music, by Andrew Zuckerman.

Invite discussion:
       What is your favorite song? Why? What does the song say about you?
       How does the music you listen to reflect your emotions? attitudes? values? beliefs?
       What are the songs you’ve brought with you today? Why did you choose them as songs that have special meaning to you?

Invite the youth to make themselves comfortable. Ask them to choose one song from their playlist, to write its name on a sheet of paper, and to place it in a bowl or hat. It’s unlikely you’ll get through all of the group’s songs; so draw a slip of paper from the bowl or hat and read the title. What follows is the practice of Lectio Divina with music.

Play the song you have chosen. Invite group members to listen for a word that shines out to them through the song. If the song is an instrumental, that’s OK; invite the youth to think of an emotion that the song inspires in them.

After the song is played once, invite each person to speak the word or to name the emotion. Each person should say only one word, not a sentence.

Play the song through a second time. This time invite group members to dwell on this question:
       How is my life touched by this song?

After the song has been played, invite the youth to tell the group their response to the question.

Play the song through a third time. This time, ask the youth to consider this question:
       What is the invitation in the song? What does it ask of you?

After the music finishes, allow a minute or two for silent reflection.

Invite discussion:
       How did you find the process for listening to music?
       In what ways did it help you to think more deeply about the music?
       When did you feel God speak to you through the music as you listened?
       Could you use the process to delve more deeply into the music?
       What other questions would you ask of the song as you listened to it?

If you have time and the group expresses an interest, repeat the process with another song.

SHARING IN PRAYER

Explain to the group that Psalms are songs. Sung in community by people of faith, they were vibrant expressions of faith and prayer. They gave words to the people’s encounter with God.

Invite group members to say together Psalm 67.

TAKING IT FURTHER

Ask group members to put together a playlist by sharing with the faith community the five songs that hold special meaning for each of them. Invite each person not only to list the five songs but also to write a paragraph for each song, describing why it is important to him or her. Perhaps the songs and writing could be put together into a book or a CD as a way for the group to share their music, faith, and stories.

 

—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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