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worship under pressure

ClayLast weekend was the spring retreat for the high school youth group at the parish where I work, and Saturday night was the traditional (well, traditional since I came on staff -- nobody else had ever done this sort of thing at the parish) multi-sensory worship experience.

The theme for the weekend was "Under Pressure," so the liturgy was designed to give the group opportunity to dig deep into the pressures they experienced so they could offer those to God, and to go wild in imagining what total freedom, freedom in Christ, might be and feel like.

The service took place in a chapel, with a cross set into the wall at the front. Projected on that wall was a slideshow of images (props to Google's advanced image search, iPhoto and its fabulous "Ken Burns effect" for slideshows) evoking pressure, release, tranquility, struggle, and God -- Byzantine icons, traffic signs, and images of technology and nature all figured prominently (I was going for a Koyaanisqatsi feel) -- and the real, physical cross on the wall was at the center and casting its shadow on it. A soundtrack, selected by a very gifted high schooler from my iTunes library after a brief orientation to what effects we were going for in the liturgy, played over my totally indispensible, excellent-sounding, and very portable Creature II speakers. Our DJ chose excellently, including Rachmoninov's Vespers with the Robert Shaw Singers, some great Asian dub music, and (of course), highlights from U2's catalog.

There were also banners, paper, modelling clay in many colors, fingerpaint and fabric paint, and lots of markers around, and the group was free to interact with one another, with the space, and with the materials to express what they were experiencing -- what pressures they felt, and what freedom is like. After about an hour and a half, we gathered in a circle to look at what the group had created and offer the concerns and dreams expressed to God. It was very powerful, and fun, and cool. The clay sculptures in the photo you see are a sample of what the group did in the liturgy.

I can't wait for Youth Sunday, when the whole congregation is going to see some of what came out of that service, as well as an excellent sermon (including liturgical dance) from the graduating seniors, and a service in which just about all of the liturgical roles for layfolk are filled by young people.

May 3, 2005 in Youth Ministry | Permalink


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should be a great youth sunday.

Posted by: ppb | May 3, 2005 10:27:35 PM

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