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: “Smile,” Sidewalk Prophets

This week’s SPIRIT is about caring for others, being a caregiver and showing compassion for those around us. Whether we 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. The song “Smile” is about choosing to smile in the face of adversity and infusing our lives with joy.

Key Lyrics: There’s always a reason / To always choose joy / There’s something deeper / That the world can’t destroy / Smile, when you think you can’t / Smile, get up and dance / Smile, there’s a bigger plan / The storm only lasts for a while / So smile

Questions: When have you had to act as a caregiver to someone else? What have you learned from the person? How can you spread care and compassion this holiday season?

Music and the Gospel: “Everyday Life,” Coldplay

This week SPIRIT focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we can find 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. Coldplay’s song “Everyday Life” reminds us that despite our differences, we are all part of the same human family, we all share the same home. It’s important to remember that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

Key Lyrics: What in the world are we going to do? / Look at what everybody’s going through / What kind of world do you want it to be? / Am I the future or the history? / ‘Cause everyone hurts / Everyone cries / Everyone tells each other all kinds of lies / Everyone falls / Everybody dreams and doubts / Got to keep dancing when the lights go out

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 the stories of others help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?

Music and the Gospel: “Good Vibes,” Chris Janson

The holidays pull us in many directions. Sometimes we don’t recognize the people most important to us—those who love us, shelter us, feed us—until something forces us to slow down. Waiting can give us time to remember what and who we count on and how fortunate we really are. Chris Janson’s song “Good Vibes” is about slowing down and taking stock of all we have to be thankful for. It’s about appreciating the good things we have in our lives.

Key Lyrics: I’m gettin’ them good vibes / I’m livin’ this good life / I’m breathin’ on God’s time / And I ain’t gonna waste one breath / I’m soakin’ it all up / I got me a full cup / And there ain’t nothin’ gonna spill it / Nothin’ gonna kill it / Wavin’ them worries goodbye / I’m feelin’ them good vibes

Questions: When have you been forced to slow down or wait for something?  How did waiting affect you?  What insights into yourself or the situation did you experience? What are you thankful for this Advent season?

Music and the Gospel: “Lose Control,” Meduza, ft. Becky Hill & Goodboys

Resentment and anger are powerful emotions that can lead us to lose control and say or do things we don’t mean. These feelings can lead us to inflict our own pain on someone else, can make us push away those we love, and resent those who seem to “have it all.” On the other hand, anger can be positive. It can force conversations around issues requiring social change/justice or help us push through a difficult or painful situation. By dealing with our own anger or resentment, we can learn valuable lessons in forgiveness and apologies. Meduza’s song “Lose Control” is about recognizing when our negative emotions are taking over as well as acting on feelings of compassion.

Key Lyrics: Why do I feel like I’m drowning / Like I’m running out of air, ah / Why do I feel like I’m falling / When I’m nowhere near the edge, ah / Just let me know / Can you be the one to hold and not let me go? / I need to know / Could you be the one to call when I lose control?

Questions: Who or what has made you feel angry? How did you deal with it? When have you felt resentful and been able to let the resentment go? When have you made someone else angry? How did this person forgive you?

Music and the Gospel: “To The Ground,” Death Cab for Cutie

We all make choices, some safe and some risky. As the main character in this week’s SPIRIT story sits in the ditch in a car full of friends, she wonders if God kept her safe because rubbed the cross on her visor before they started out. Her friends point out that God is always with us, no matter what choices we make and in every circumstance. The song “To The Ground” tells how one decision can change everything and how choices have consequences. We can trust in God to stay with us no matter the consequences but not to prevent them.

Key lines: The arms lost control / Slipped and began to roll / And on the wings of an ocean gale / He crashed right through the rail / Down to the valley below / To the valley below / ….Return to the ground / To the ground

Questions: What choices have you made without seeing the consequences? When have you been lucky enough to escape consequences you didn’t see coming? When have you felt God’s presence in a tough time? How has faith helped you make decisions or get through a difficult time?