Music and the Gospel: “New Religion,” The Heydaze

Our global world fills our minds with challenging thoughts to complement and compete with our own worldviews. The song “New Religion” is about what can guide us as we travel our own paths. What inspires us to be our better selves? What calls us beyond our individual selves into friendship and community? We may be looking for signs to lead us toward God. These signs may come by simply looking up at the stars in the night sky like the magi or by imitating the actions of someone who inspires us.

Key lines: A city of strangers, the streetlights, they change us / We all need a little bit more, we all need a little bit more / The saints and the liars, the dealers and buyers / We all need a little bit more, we all need a little bit more / But somewhere there’s a light / A sign that it’s all right / I find it by your side / ….You’re waking me up in the morning

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?

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Music and the Gospel: “So Much More Than This,” Grace VanderWaal, 3rd Sunday of Advent

Grace VanderWaal challenges us to see more in ourselves and our lives than we recognize in our day to day actions. When we recognize and cultivate our talents, we can find ways to lead and work for good. In doing this, we follow John the Baptist, who “gave witness to the light.” When we share our true selves, we share our gifts with the world.

Key lines: Tap your foot and listen in / Ignore the world, let the music cave in / Close your phone and breathe in the air / You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is / So much more than this

Questions: How do you share your gifts with the world? How do you cultivate these gifts? When has being your true self challenged your friendships? Who do you consider to be a leader in your community or and school?

Music and the Gospel: “Calm Down,” Skip Marley

Some decisions stay with us and even define us for the rest of lives. Some choices seem so clear that we forget we made them. Serious choices demand time to weigh the pros and cons of our actions, the positive or negative ways the choices affect other people. Occasionally, someone (a friend, a parent) will insist that we don’t have a choice. But don’t we always have a choice? Skip Marley’s song “Calm down” is about taking a step back and thinking about whether a decision is worth getting worked up about.

Key Lyrics: I thought we figured out how not to spill blood / I thought we figured out to walk away / I thought we found that love was not a failure / Decided that the sea would have no waves / …..And we get worked up for nothing, yeah / I get worked up and they get worked up / And we get worked up for what? / …Calm down, oh, calm down

Questions: What decisions do you make on a daily basis? When have you felt pressure to choose to act in a way you didn’t want to do? How does stepping back and thinking about a choice help? What prejudices do you see in your school or community? How can you create a more welcoming environment?

Music and the Gospel: “Love,” Lana Del Rey, 3rd Sunday of Lent

This week’s Spirit discusses relationships, dating, and What it means to be in a healthy relationship? The high school years are prime time for making friends and dating. Most of us spend those years within a wide circle of friends and, as we get older, we start to pair off into more exclusive relationships. When we date, we explore and set boundaries, expectations, and priorities. The song “Love” is about being in love and what can happen when we open ourselves up to experiencing love.

Key Lines: You get ready, you get all dressed up / To go nowhere in particular / Back to work or the coffee shop / Doesn’t matter cause it’s enough / To be young and in love / To be young and in love

Questions: What does love mean to you? How do you describe a healthy relationship? How do you identify boundaries between people? Who do you want to be within your circle of friends, family, or with a significant other?

Music and the Gospel: “Scars To Your Beautiful,” Alessia Cara, 2nd Sunday of Lent

This week’s Spirit tackles our ideas of self-image and beauty. High school can be a difficult time. A lot of personal and social changes are taking place; we’re constantly trying to fit in and fit an image of who we think we should be and who people will accept. Trying to live up to these expectations can make us act in ways that aren’t in our best interests. Alessia Cara’s song “Scars To Your Beautiful” is a song that reminds us that we’re all beautiful regardless of who might say otherwise.

Key Lyrics: But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart / No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Questions: What is your idea of perfection? How are your self-expectations different from social expectations? When have these expectations come into conflict? How did you handle it?

Music and The Gospel: “Something Just Like This,” The Chainsmokers, ft. Coldplay, 1st Sunday of Lent

School, work, extra curricular activities—all come with expectations: that we get good grades, do a good job, and perform at the top of our game. But what do we do when the pressure builds up and challenges the expectations we have of ourselves? Something Just Like This reminds us that we don’t have to be superheroes to make ourselves and others happy.

Key Lines: She said, where’d you wanna go? / How much you wanna risk? / I’m not looking for somebody / With some superhuman gifts / Some superhero / Some fairytale bliss / Just something I can turn to / Somebody I can miss

Questions: What expectations do you have of yourself? What expectations do others have of you? When have you felt pressure to meet these expectations? How do you handle this? How do you define happiness?

Music and the Gospel: “The Garden,” Kari Jobe

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?