Music and the Gospel: “When We’re Together,” Idina Menzel & Kristen Bell

Christmas is a time of gift-giving, merry-making, family, and friends. It’s also a time frazzled nerves, fatigue, and stress. In all the rushing back and forth, it can be difficult to remember that Christmas is ultimately a time when we recognize all what we already have and the people in our life. We don’t have to rush around, trying to find the perfect gift and spending a ton of money just to show our appreciation. Instead, we can give our time and attention to the people around us. In the end, that is the most important present we can give to someone. The song “When We’re Together” is about family and friendship, and how just simply being with our loved ones makes every day a holiday.

Key Lines: Sure, it’s nice to open a gift that’s tied up with a perfect bow / But the great present of all was given to me long ago / It’s something I would never trade, it’s the family that we’ve made / ‘Cause when we’re together, I have everything on my list /
And when we’re together, I have all I wished / All around the Christmas tree, there’ll be dreams coming true / But when we’re together, then my favorite gift is you

Questions: What family Christmas traditions do you and your family have? What new tradition would you like to begin? What free or inexpensive Christmas traditions does your family participate in?  What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

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Music and the Gospel: “Arms Open,” The Script, 4th Sunday of Advent

We sometimes feel God’s presence in our life in surprising ways. Sometimes we can find God by taking a simple walk and connecting with the world around us. Other times, God’s presence arises in times of personal pain and darkness, times when we wonder “why me?” This week’s SPIRIT makes us aware that taking a risk (like Mary) and setting off on a journey can bring us closer to who we are meant to be. The song “Arms Open” reminds us that through all our questions, fears, and pains, God is always by our side.

Key lines: I can’t uncry your tears / I can’t rewind the time / I can’t unsay what’s said / In your crazy life / My love, my arms are open / Oh, and when you’re cursing at the sky / And thinking, “Lord, you must be joking” / My arms are open / And, and when you’re looking in the mirror / Thinking that, “my life is over” / My arms are open

Questions: When have you felt challenged in your faith? What sustained you? What did your journey teach you? Like Mary, what risks do you take to participate in God’s vision for peace on earth and good will to all?

Music and the Gospel: “Rebel Heart,” The Shelters, 4th Sunday Advent

When The Shelters’ sing out about rebel hearts, they are describing the theme of this week’s Spirit. This theme is about caring for others, being a caregiver and showing compassion for those around you. Whether you care for an elderly person, a child, or someone with a disability, People have remarkable ways of living that can inspire us. Someone’s capacity for strength and resilience can teach us how to approach each day with optimism and laughter.

Key Lines: A star lights up the sky / Her heart is where her fire lies / You see it in her painted eyes / She’s got a rebel heart, on that she’s gonna find / She’s got a rebel heart, she’s up against them all

Questions: When have you had to act as a caregiver to someone else? What did you learn from the person? How can you spread acts of compassion this holiday season?

Music and the Gospel: “That’s Christmas To Me,” Pentatonix; 4th Sunday of Advent

With the holidays come family, friends, food, and presents. Also with the holidays can come stress, materialism, and fatigue. It can be really difficult to step back and remember what’s really important: being grateful for what we have. We don’t have to be stressed out and tired, trying to find the perfect gift and spending money we may not have just to show our appreciation for our loved ones. We can instead spend something more precious: our time. We can give something more precious than any present: our unconditional love and support.

Key Lyrics: I’ve got this Christmas song in my heart / I’ve got the candles glowing in the dark and then for years to come we’ll always know one thing / That’s the love that Christmas can bring / Oh, why? ‘Cause that’s Christmas to me

Questions: How does your family celebrate Christmas? Does your family have any free or inexpensive Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? If not, how can you go about starting a new tradition? What are you most thankful for this holiday season?