Music and the Gospel, “Two of Us,” Louis Tomlinson, Easter Sunday

When someone we love dies, the relationship can seem lost. Spirit this week deals not only with loss but also resurrection. The stories in this issue tell us that while someone is no physically be with us any longer, their presence within us stays and lasts. Louis Tomlinson’s song “Two of Us” reminds us that those we love are never really gone but live on in our memories and actions.

Key Lyrics: So I will keep you day and night, here until the day I die / I’ll be living one life for the two of us / I will be the best of me, always keep you next to me / I’ll be living one life for the two of us / Even when I’m on my own, I know I won’t be alone / Tattooed on my heart are the words of your favourite song / I know you’ll be looking down, swear I’m gonna make you proud / I’ll be living one life for the two of us

Questions: When have you lost someone you loved? What do you most remember about the person? In what way do you experience the person still with you? How have you helped someone through an illness? How did the illness affect your relationship?

Music and the Gospel: “Open Hands,” Urban Rescue, Easter Sunday

Easter is where Christian faith begins. It celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. The Church often baptizes new believers at Easter time. Spirit is about a young woman who wakes up to what she believes at a baptism. For some people, believing is as natural as breathing; others journey a longer way through doubting and questioning. They may find people in their lives whose faith opens their hearts and minds to the teachings of Jesus. The song “Open Hands” is about opening ourselves up to the possibilities that come with faith and embracing a wider community that encourages and sustains us.

Key Lines: I’m placing all my trust / Into a higher love / You’re dreaming bigger dreams / You have a plan for me / And though I cannot see / Here I am with open hands

Questions: Where are you on your faith journey? How do you describe yourself as a believer? How do examples of faith in other people inspire you? Who has influenced your believing? What baptisms have you witnessed? What does baptism mean to you?

Easter Week

Photo via Flickr user T

Photo via Flickr user T

“Get rid of the old yeast. Let us celebrate this feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” – 1 Corinthians 5.8

Celebrate an Easter custom that expresses how your ancestors enculturated the Easter message. Bake or buy an Easter bread that has ethnic roots. Decorate eggs with Christian symbols and the Easter word Alleluia.

Let Alleluia, which means Praise God, be your constant prayer celebrating the Risen Christ and the Body of Christ we are. Begin meal or bedtime prayers with this Easter word.

Prayer for the week: Alleluia!

Music and the Gospel: “Bright,” Echosmith; Easter Sunday

Throughout our lives we have moments of feeling distant from God and times of feeling God’s embrace in fullness. When I feel connected to God, I see God’s wonder and beauty all around me and within me. I see the flowers. I appreciate the gifts of my day. Even waiting in traffic is more bearable. I feel “Bright” as Echosmith explains in this song. It’s a great Easter song. After his resurrection, we see Jesus in a new light.

Key Lyrics: ‘Cause now I’m shining bright, so bright / Bright, so bright / And I see colors in a different way / You make what doesn’t matter fade to grey / Life is good and that’s the way it should be

Questions: Call to mind a moment when you felt “Bright.” Tell a friend about this memory. When do you feel connected to God? What disconnects you? What helps you stay connected?

What does Holy Week celebrate?

Faith-In-Action(4)Palm/Passion Sunday, which we will celebrate on Sunday, begins Holy Week. Palms are its symbol, the leafy branches citizens of Jerusalem broke off trees and waved to welcome Jesus into their city. In its liturgy for Sunday the Church juxtaposes the reading of this peaceful gospel with the passion story. We bless palms and celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to begin Mass. We read the story of Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and death as the main gospel of the day. From earliest times Christians remembered Jesus’ last days by visiting the sites and remembering the happenings at them.

Our Holy Week liturgies journey with Jesus through the last events of his life — his last supper with his friends, his passion, death, and resurrection. In worship, the word celebrate means to remember and make present in story, actions, and symbols.

Holy Thursday celebrates Jesus’ last meeting with his friends when they ate together and he washed everyone’s feet.

The Church remembers how Jesus washed his friends’ feet by having the priest wash people’s feet during the liturgy or sometimes having the people of the parish wash one another’s hands or feet.

Holy Thursday liturgy also remembers that Jesus broke bread, blessed it and gave it to his friends and poured a cup of wine, blessed it, and gave it to his friends, asking them to do the same to remember him. Each Eucharist continues this action.

Good Friday remembers Jesus’ passion and death. The Church strips the altar bare and does not celebrate Eucharist on this day. Catholics gather to pray for the needs of the Church and of the people of the world for whom Jesus died. The cross is the central symbol; we kiss the cross or show it reverence in the liturgy.

Holy Saturday is the holiest day of the year. It is the night of Jesus’ resurrection. Light and water are its symbols. The community gathers in darkness to light the Easter candle, symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection. By the light of the candle we read stories of God’s goodness in creating the world, leading Israel out of Egypt, and raising Jesus from the dead. We bless water and baptize new Christians, who believe Jesus will lead them from death to life. We sprinkle the congregation with the same water.

Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and the new life it promises all who follow him. All the spring signs of new life symbolize Easter.



Music and the Gospel: “Ordinary Love” and Easter

Both Mary Magdalene and Thomas the apostle are sure that Jesus’ death means the end of their relationship with him. When Jesus appears to each of them, they learn that even the end of life on earth cannot separate them from the love of Jesus. In our lives, too, we often struggle to recognize that Jesus still lives and his love is always with us.

Key Lines: ‘Cause we can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love / And we cannot reach any higher, if we can’t deal with ordinary love / Are we tough enough for ordinary love?

Questions: What is ordinary about Jesus’ love for us? What is extraordinary? How is Jesus’ death and resurrection a sign of his love for us? Where do you see God present in our world? What keeps us from seeing God’s love? When is love a challenge? What makes faith difficult?

Current Music and the Gospel: “Home,” Phillip Phillips

Gospel Reflection for April 21, 4th Sunday of Easter: Jesus refers to himself as a shepherd in Sunday’s gospel, describing his loving care for his followers. Jesus’ promise is that his love and protection will reach even beyond death. “Home” is about how love like Jesus’ can help us feel safe and protected, even when facing what we fear.

Key Lines: Settle down, it’ll all be clear/Don’t pay no mind to the demons/They fill you with fear/The trouble it might drag you down/If you get lost, you can always be found/Just know you’re not alone/’Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Questions: What does “home” mean to you? What makes you feel safe? Who in your community is not safe? What needs to be done to help them? Where do you hear Jesus’ voice in your life? Does following Jesus give you a sense of safety? Why or why not?

Current Music and the Gospel: “Don’t You Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin

Gospel Reflection for April 14, 3rd Sunday of Easter: Jesus’ death leaves his friends sad and confused about what to do next. Many of them may have felt abandoned. When Jesus returns to his friends in this Sunday’s gospel, he shows them that he is still with them and will still care for them.

Key Lines: Up on the hill across the blue lake/That’s where I had my first heartbreak/I still remember how it all changed/My father said/”Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child/See heaven’s got a plan for you/Don’t you worry, don’t you worry now”

Questions: How do you feel God’s care for you in your life? How does Jesus’ coming back to his disciples show that he cares about them? Do you believe that God has a plan for everyone? Why or why not? How do you discern God’s plan for you? Who helps you see it?

Current Music and the Gospel: “A Thousand Years,” Christina Perri

Gospel Reflection for March 31/April 7, Easter Sunday/2nd Sunday of Easter: For Jesus’ friends the time after his death and resurrection is a confusing and frightening time. Jesus’ tomb is empty. His disciples do not understand God has raised Jesus from the dead; they do not expect his resurrection and return to them. In the presence of Jesus risen and among them, his friends discover the love of God is more powerful than anything we can imagine.

Key lines: I will be brave/I will not let anything take away/What’s standing in front of me?Every breath/Every hour has come to this/One step closer/I have died every day waiting for you/Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you/For a thousand years/I’ll love you for a thousand more

Questions: How does the story of Jesus’ resurrection give you hope? How do you imagine Mary Magdalene feels when she thinks Jesus is gone and then realizes he is alive and hears him speak her name? Describe the loss of someone you live. How does the promise of Jesus’ resurrection affect how you feel about what happened? Why do you think Thomas doubts his friends’ story? How is Jesus’ resurrection a message of God’s love for us?