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?

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Celebrate by sharing the prayer below. Click here for Our Lady’s story with friends and family. The art and prayer on this page are by Sister Ansgar Holmberg. The story appeared first in Good News, one of the Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. Happy feast day!

Our Mother Who Art

You are the mother
of the dark and the light
the rich and the poor
the humble and proud.

You are the mother
of the young and the old
the strong and the weak
of those who rejoice
of those who weep.

You are the mother
of woman and man
of small and of great
of broken and whole.
You are the mother who art.

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: “That’s Christmas To Me,” Pentatonix

Family traditions and rituals give us strength, teach us the meanings behind the things we celebrate, and connect us with our extended family and others around us. The song “That’s Christmas to Me” is not just a list of the things we value about the feast day but a reminder of the traditions we love and the closeness those traditions create between ourselves and those around us.

Key lines: The fireplace is burning bright, shining along me / I see the presents underneath the good old Christmas tree / …I see the children play outside, like angels in the snow / While mom and daddy share a kiss under the mistletoe / And we’ll cherish all these simple things wherever we may be / Oh, why? ‘Cause that’s Christmas to me

Questions: What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? What have you learned from the tradition about what Christmas celebrates? When have you experienced the traditions of a different culture? What new traditions would you like to create with your family and friends?

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: “Million Reasons,” Lady Gaga, 3rd Sunday Advent

This week’s Spirit focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we have in common with people who hold different beliefs, come from different cultures, and have life experiences unlike our own. We live in a global world with social media and the internet at our fingertips. We need to learn how to build bridges between ourselves and so many kinds of different others. Lady Gaga’s song “Million Reasons” explores the desire to walk away from someone but acknowledges one reason to stay that overcomes all the others: love.
 
Key Lyrics: When I bow down to pray / I try to make the worst seem better / Lord, show me the way / To cut through all his worn out leather / I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away / But baby, I just need one good one, good one / Tell me that you’ll be the good one, good one / Baby, I just need one good one to stay

Questions: When have you been in conflict or felt frustration with someone from a different background? How might you learn what you have in common? How does listening to others’ stories help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?