Music and the Gospel: "Soon You'll Get Better," Taylor Swift ft. The Dixie Chicks

What does it mean to be courageous? Sometimes courage means standing up for or with someone through a conflict, or a big game, or through a punishing sickness. Two brothers play basketball in the Spirit story; one has to struggle with cancer. The other shaves his head in solidarity. Taylor Swift’s song “You’ll Get Better Soon” is about navigating the pain of watching someone go through cancer and having faith that they’ll get better.

Lyrics: I know delusion when I see it in the mirror / You like the nicer nurses, you make the best of a bad deal / I just pretend it isn’t real /I’ll paint the kitchen neon, I’ll brighten up the sky / I know I’ll never get it, there’s not a day that I won’t try / And I’ll say to you / Ooh-ah, soon you’ll get better / Ooh-ah, soon you’ll get better

Questions: When have been close to someone experiencing a major illness? How did it change the person? How did it affect you? What did you learn from the person who was sick? How did/do you support him or her? What does courage mean?

Music and the Gospel: “10,000 Hours,” Dan + Shay, Justin Bieber

Spirit explores 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 “10,000 Hours” is about being in love and how we open ourselves up to experiencing love.

Lyrics: When you close your eyes / Tell me what are you dreaming? / Everything, I wanna know it all / I’d spend 10,000 hours and 10,000 more / Oh, if that’s what it takes to learn that sweet heart of yours / And I might never get there but I’m gonna try / If it’s 10,000 hours or the rest of my life / I’m gonna love you (Ooh) / I’m gonna love you

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

Music and the Gospel: “Lose You To Love Me,” Selena Gomez

Spirit explores our ideas of self-image and beauty in this issue. High school can be a difficult time. A lot of personal and social changes take place in these years; 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. Expectations can make us hard ourselves and others when we don’t fit into certain ideals. Selena Gomez’s song “Lose You to Love Me” is a song that reflects how hard breaking up with someone is or stopping something that isn’t good for us. Breaking up can be necessary in order to be our best selves.

Lyrics: We’d always go into it blindly / I needed to lose you to find me / This dancing was killing me softly / I needed to hate you to love me, yeah / To love, love, yeah / To love, love, yeah / To love, yeah / I needed to lose you to love me, yeah

Questions: What ideals do you want others to see in you? How are your self-expectations different from others’ social expectations in your school? How are they the same? When have these expectations come into conflict? How did you handle it?

Music and the Gospel: “Lights Up,” Harry Styles

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.” Harry Styles’ song “Lights Up” is about rising above the fray and challenging ourselves and those around us to be better.

Lyrics: All the lights couldn’t put out the dark / Runnin’ through my heart / Lights up and they know who you are / Know who you are / Do you know who you are? (Oh) / Shine, step into the light / Shine, so bright sometimes / Shine, I’m not ever going back

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?

Music and the Gospel: “Epiphany,” BTS

In high school, moments when we feel on the outside looking in happen a lot.  Everyone wants to be popular; everyone wants to be included. Often we feel socially tested, judged about everything from the people we hang out with to the very clothes we wear. It’s also a time when we determine what and who are important to us: is being popular more important than just being ourselves? Who are real friends? The song “Epiphany” is about realizing that we shouldn’t have to change who we are just to please someone else. It’s about recognizing that each of us is worthy of love and respect regardless of what anyone else might say or do.

Lyrics: So weird, I for sure loved you so much / Adapted to you with everything, I wanted to live my life for you / But as I keep doing that I just can’t bear the storm inside my heart / The real myself inside the smiling mask, I reveal it entirely / I’m the one I should love in this world / Shining me, precious soul of mine / I finally realized so I love me / Not so perfect but so beautiful / I’m the one I should love

Questions: What does popularity mean in your school?  What or who have your given up to be popular?  Why do groups act so cruelly about who is in and who is out?  What does it mean to bully another person? What instances of bullying have you seen around your school or community? 

Music and the Gospel: “Rise Up,” Andra Day, Feast of the Presentation

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “…any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” The news constantly confronts us with oppression based on race, gender, beliefs in our society and world. It’s important to recognize ways we keep people down and initiate peaceful changes that ensure that everyone has equal rights to resources and education. Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” is about overcoming barriers and finding strength in standing together to make the world a better place.

Lyrics: You’re broken down and tired / Of living life on a merry go round / And you can’t find the fighter / But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out / …And I’ll rise up / I’ll rise like the day / I’ll rise up / I’ll rise unafraid / I’ll rise up / And I’ll do it a thousand times again / And I’ll rise up / High like the waves / I’ll rise up / In spite of the ache / I’ll rise up

Questions: What are some examples of ways we keep people down in your school and community? What about in our country and our world? How can you help people overcome barrier and rise in a peaceful way? When have you experienced being kept down? How have others helped you rise? What help bridge the gap between you and those who keep you down or count you out? How?

Music and the Gospel: “Higher Love,” Kygo & Whitney Houston

 

SPIRIT explores service and ways to put our faith into action this week It isn’t easy to see the poverty around us if we are not living in it. People living without what they need don’t want us to see what is happening. Most of us, especially young people our own age, want to help if we do see others in tough situations. We serve God when we serve our neighbors. Some people have the means to donate money; some donate time and talents. “Higher Love” is a powerful song about what it means to seek out purpose and to respond to Jesus’ call to serve others. It challenges us to move into action.

Key Lines: Think about it, there must be a higher love / Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above / Without it, life is wasted time / Look inside your heart, and I’ll look inside mine / …Bring me a higher love / Bring me a higher love, oh / Bring me a higher love / Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?

Questions: Where do you see people living in poverty in your community? What are some ways you can serve in your local community? When have you felt called to a higher purpose? What is it?

 

 

Music and the Gospel: “The Greatest,” Sia

SPIRIT this week explores ways the Holy Spirit moves in us—in our failures and regrets as well as our gold stars and friendships. Sometimes we sense the Spirit stirring during quiet contemplation. The Spirit risks new friendships with us or pushes to give our best to a challenge. Sia’s song “The Greatest” is all about connecting with a animating presence greater than ourselves, pushing and staying motivated against all obstacles, and embracing life.

Key Lines: Hey, I am the truth / Hey, I am the wisdom of the fallen – I’m the youth / Hey, I am the greatest / Hey, this is the proof / Hey, I work hard, pray hard, pay dues, hey / I transform with pressure, I’m hands-on with effort / I fell twice before my bounce back was special / Letdowns will get you, and the critics will test you / But the strong will survive, another scar may bless you, ah

Questions: When have you pushed yourself beyond old limits to new ones? When have you experienced being part of something greater than yourself?

Music and the Gospel: “Resist the Tide,” Cynthia Hopkins

Jesus’ baptism reveals his true identity and call as the Son of God. For each of us, our baptism is a sign to the world of our identity as children of God. Baptism is the sacrament that initiates us into the Christian community.

Key Lines: You know you’ve got a voice / That you can call your own / So just clear your throat / And start singing this song / Resist the tide, stand in the water / That’s baptism, that’s making light

Questions: What does your baptism mean to you? How does your baptism call you to “resist the tide?” How do you use your voice to speak out for what you believe is right? What does it mean to be a beloved child of God?Who or what helps you see your true identity?