Heifer International is an organization that makes its mission to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world, a mission like Jesus’ own. It is featured in Spirit this week. Heifer educates people about the lives of people who need help with the basics to thrive. The learning center invites young people to experience a “day in the life” of families from different countries where poverty is more common. The song “Tapestry” is about taking stock of the world around us and opening our minds to people we don’t know, who live differently than we do, who get by with less. Real world situations open our eyes to people’s needs in ways that can become part of our tapestry. We can learn to approach social issues with compassion and work together on creative solutions that help raise people up.
Key lines: Have you felt a revolution? / Do you ever sit to stop and pause / Just to take a little moment / To see what’s mine and yours? / And all the things that I’ve seen / You will always be part of my tapestry / And all the places I’ve been / You will always be part of my tapestry
Questions: How hard is finding God in the world today? When have you experienced God? What in the natural world inspires you? Who in the human community inspires you? Who helps you step beyond yourself in your concerns?
This week’s Spirit is about waking up to what is happening in the world around us. It is easy to put off unpleasant issues and can be challenging to convince others of a problem we see. Maggie Rogers’ song “Alaska” is about taking a challenging path alone, sometimes without the people we love, and moving forward with our eyes wide open.
Key lines: I was walking through icy streams / That took my breath away / Moving slowly through westward water / Over glacial plains / And I walked off you / And I walked off an old me / Oh me oh my I thought it was a dream / So it seemed / And now, breathe deep
Questions: What issues or problems do you recognize in your school or community? What woke you up to the issue? How did the problem touch you? When have you been asleep to a situation or issue that mattered to others? How can you help people around you wake up to issues important to you?
Not all the people in our communities and nation have the same access to education, healthcare, and justice. This week’s SPIRIT spotlights Appalachia and the effects of mountaintop mining. The song “Sea Change” asks us why are we closing our eyes to the plight of people in our midst who are poor when we are all in this world together.
Key lines: So where will we go when the waters threaten to wash us away? / And all of our sons and our daughters wilt in the heat of the day? / I feel the sun draw nearer, I feel the sea start to rise / Who’s looking back in the mirror? Why are they closing —Why are they closing their eyes? / …Why are we closing our eyes?
Questions: When have you closed your eyes to a problem in your community or school? When have you opened your eyes to a problem? What did you learn or do about it? What duties does government have for the people it serves? How do you balance serving God and following the laws of our country? What issues make you struggle to answer?
Immigration is a fiery topic today. Some people welcome immigrants; some resist others different from them. This week’s SPIRIT explores how accepting new people and cultures can benefit our communities and schools and expand our relationships with those around us. The song “One of Us” is about celebrating our differences and accepting people into our homes, communities, and lives.
Key lines: Everybody needs a place to call their home / Everybody’s skin is different, not their bones / Even when you’re lonely, know you’re not alone / You’re one of us, one of us, one of us / One of us / Bring the sunshine in / The happy days / The hardship, too / We’ll find a way / So raise your flag / One last time / Before the day is through, I promise you / That we will laugh about it all / And we’ll celebrate the things we’ve done for years to come / ‘Cause that’s what friends, that’s what friends are for
Questions: What challenges do you think immigrants face in new places? What challenges have you faced if you are an immigrant? What do you think helps ease these challenges? What have you learned from people of different cultures? Who do you notice being excluded in your community?
“Without roots in the people, no government can avail, much less when it wants to impose its program through bloodshed and sorrow.” In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated not long after he spoke these words. Romero challenged his government to end the violence that was sweeping through his country and killing his people. He refused to be silent about the injustice that was affecting the poorer classes of El Salvador. The song “Believer” is about recognizing the pain that injustice causes and using it as a force to bring about personal and social change.
Key Lines: First things first / I’ma say all the words inside my head / I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh-ooh / The way that things have been, oh-ooh / …Singing from heartache from the pain / Take up my message from the veins / Speaking my lesson from the brain / Seeing the beauty through the… / Pain!
Questions: Who do you see standing up injustice to people who are poor? What examples of injustice do you see in our society? How can you take a stand against them?
In the day-to-day shuffle, we cyberbeings often forget to unplug and recognize the beauty in the world around us. Sometimes that beauty takes a little work to uncover, whether it’s cleaning up a road ditch or a deserted piece of land. This week’s Spirit reminds us that we live in communion with Earth and that we are responsible for taking care of our common home. Kari Jobe’s song “The Garden” reiterates this message by reminding us that hope exists all around us, in all we make and grow.
Key Lines: Faith is rising up like ivy / Reaching for the light / Hope is stirring deep inside me / Making all things right… / Now I see redemption / Growing in the trees / The death and resurrection / In every single seed…
Questions: What can Earth teach you? How do we affect Earth? What concerns you most about the world we live in? What initiatives can you start in your school and community to make the world a better place?
Turning the other cheek when someone hits you is an act of nonviolence, of stopping violence rather than taking it to another level. Whether a bully by choice or a child soldier by force, fighting leads to more fighting, violence feeds violence. Jesus challenges us to stop the payback cycles, “to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors.” Katy Perry’s song “Rise” is about rising above the fray and challenging ourselves and those around us to be better.
Key Lines: I won’t just survive / Oh, you will see me thrive /Can’t write my story / I’m beyond the archetype / I won’t just conform / No matter how you shake my core / ‘Cause my roots, they run deep, oh
Questions: What does Jesus mean when he tells us to love our enemies? When have you turned the other cheek? How can you reach out to those you disagree with or join with others to stop those who bully? What are some ways you can resolve situations peacefully?