Several weeks ago, we posted a video of the new (secular) song "How the Day Sounds" by Greg Laswell and challenged someone to come up with an outline for and Advent-themed discussion based on the song. Music teacher and seminarian Travis McKee picked up that mantle and offered up a thoughtful suggestion for engaging this hopeful song with youth. Travis describes how he leads others through the dicussion:
It starts out simple. We comment on the weather. “I hate the cold.” It isn’t a shout, it isn’t a call to arms, it is just a statement. Then you start to see it spread. Other people start to hate the cold too. That one person in your class says, “This is stupid.” Again, it is just a statement. But, sure enough, we see many in the class start to agree. People do studies on the effects of violent TV on youth, but we are ignoring a greater influence: Complaining.
When I was in high school and college, I noticed that what the majority of conversations got started with was a complaint about something happening. “I hate how hot it gets,” was a common complaint while practicing for marching band in July. The person standing next to you thought so too and spoke up with you. Then you got to talking about air conditioners and cool water. The next day, you spoke again about the heat. Eventually you start to talk about other things, but your relationship started over complaining. And once you ran out of things to complain about, you could stop talking or find something else to complain about.
This was so odd to me, but maybe it was simple. If you are in Marching Band then you must love making music, but it is not a given that you hate the heat. Yet that friendship was formed not on the positive thing, but on the negative. Could it have happened if you turned and said, “I love marching band!”? That person next to you might have given you an odd look, but you could have sparked up a conversation about why you love it. Then when you ran out of things you loved about marching band, you could have found other things you loved. Notice the difference.
How do we want to see the world? Do we want it to be a place of complaining and hate, or of loving and sharing? That window you see the world through has a lot to do with your perspective. You can look out a window with the shades closed and say, “All I see is these blinds. I wish I could see more.” Or do you look out the open window and say, “Isn’t the sun great? I love the things I can see.” And it all starts with your decision to see gloom or greatness.
Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation. “When does Christmas get over?” “Do I have enough to buy that gift?” “Another Christmas party to go to? Gosh!” These are the things we hear from so many. But the church offers a different message: Peace, Hope, Love, Joy. It isn’t a shout, it isn’t a call to arms, it is just a statement. And what happens when this statement is spread around? We start to see why we get ready so early. We start to see these statements stick in our heads. We start to see how we can spread Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy. It all starts with a whisper. And then God’s spirit spreads it around.