This past weekend I had one of those thankfully rare experiences where I had my sermon ready on Friday and then Saturday night at 9:00 PM I decided to scrap the whole thing and start over! It's not that I hadn't written a perfectly thoughtful sermon in the first place but, to put it theologically, it was more "me" than "the Spirit." I could just tell that what I had crafted was too forced and ultimately didn't speak to the real depth of the passage. So, I started over, focusing in on what was just one tiny portion of the original sermon in order to craft an entirely new message. And it turned out to be the right choice as the words and the flow of the new sermon came to me quickly -- often a sign (to me at least) that I'm working through the Spirit rather than against. And so the message, centered on Luke 13: 31-35, ultimately focused on the metaphors of fox and hen, and how one represents worldly power (the sharp-clawed, teeth bearing fox) and the other the power of God (nurturing, protecting mother hen).
Later that evening, we had our monthly Creative Worship Nite at youth group. The students split into groups and were given a copy of the same Lukan passage I had preached on that morning. In addition, each group was assigned a single phrase, sentence, or word from the passage and asked to create a liturgical portion of the worship based around their word or phrase and it's significance to the overall passage. Groups went off to their separate parts of the building to work with an adult for about 30 minutes and then we came back together to share in worship.
The group assigned the phrase “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you” opened the service with a rhythmic drum beat as they chanted the phrase, with different voices speaking out at different times. Next the group with the phrase "I am casting out demons and performing cures" offered a pantomime of Jesus healing the sick and casting out an evil spirit (in this case, one of the middle school boys who had attached improvised foam horns onto his head!). The group who had been assigned the single word "prophet" ( from the phrase "Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets") each stood up and spoke various seemingly prophetic phrases (e.g. "The world is coming to end! You are all doomed!" or "It's important to know that a goldfish has a 3 second memory" or " It doesn't take a weatherman to sense a change in the wind. You must be the change you want to see in the world!"). Students were then asked to pick which were the false prophets and which one was true, followed by a short discussion of why Jesus would be considered a prophet. Finally, the last group led us on an interactive experience to feel how it is different to walk alone as opposed to being guided by the protective wings of the mother hen. The evening closed with a circle of prayer.