Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    Advent 2011 Ideas for Youth Ministry: Coldplay's "Christmas Lights"

    Coldplay's "Christmas Lights" offers a path to help teens explore the deeper questions of Advent.

    Opening: Prepare in advance a  string (or more) of Christmas lights all tangled together in a bundle. Challenge your youth to  untangle the bunch in one minute or less (while showing care not to damage the lights!). Increase the challenge by having them work together with each person keeping one arm behind their back. Afterwards, invite the group to think about how this activity might represent how some people see their lives this time of the year. While so many people are celebrating and the radio tells us this is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," for some (including perhaps a few of your youth) this is a season of brokenness, doubt, and hopelessness.  Help your students identify where that brokenness might be manifest in their schools, your community, the world. 

    Digging In: Read together Mark 1: 1-8.  Reflect on John's call to repentance. At its most basic, the word "repent" really means to "turn around," to head in a new direction.  John was challenging people to get ready for the coming of Jesus by reorienting their hearts toward God. Help the youth to consider what was going on in the ancient near east at the time that would have made John's declaration of the coming Kingdom of God so attractive (e.g. Roman occupation, oppression, poverty). Ask: Are there any similar situations going on in the world today?  Where might there be people who really want to believe that God's justice and peace is almost here? 

    Next, watch or listen to Coldplay's "Christmas Lights." 

    This tune tells of a broken relationship at Christmastime:

    Christmas night, another fight
    Tears we cried a flood
    Got all kinds of poison in
    Poison in my blood

    I took my feet
    To Oxford Street
    Trying to right a wrong
    Just walk away
    Those windows say
    But I can't believe she's gone

    When you're still waiting for the snow to fall
    Doesn't really feel like Christmas at all.

    Invite responses to the song. Ask: Why do you think Coldplay would create such a melancholy song for Christmas?   Who do you think could relate to this tune? Why does it sometimes seem, even in the middle of December, that  it doesn't really feel like Christmas at all? 

    Ask: The song talks of "waiting for the snow." What else do you think people in need are waiting for this Advent? 

    Post several large sheets of paper around the room.  At the top of each, write one of these words: school, family, city, country, world. Invite the youth to take time at each sheet of paper to write down what people in need in those contexts are "waiting" for this Advent season.  What might be on their Christmas lists this year? (e.g. peace, a new job, health care, less crime in the neighborhood, enough food, end of war, etc)

    Reflecting & Responding:  By the end of the song there is a glimmer of hope ("Oh Christmas lights Light up the street / Light up the fireworks in me / May all your troubles soon be gone / Those Christmas lights keep shining on"). 

    Ask: What do you think the Christmas Lights represent in the song? Who might the Christmas Lights represent? Invite the group to consider how we might have a part in the prophet Isaiah's call to "Prepare the way of the Lord, [and] make his paths straight."  How might each of us reorient our hearts toward God, in specific and tangible ways, in the coming year to help bring a measure of God's Kingdom of Peace to those around us?  Provide each youth with paper and pen and ask them to write a short letter to themselves committing to specific ways they might do this in 2012.  Seal the letters in envelopes with the student's name and plan to mail them to them in mid-January.  Close in prayer.