In 2006, a small, one-room schoolhouse was the center of a major tragedy. A lone gunman entered the school and killed five students, injured five more, and forever changed the lives of many others. Tragedies such as this happen too often. What is sometimes surprising are the number of voices that call out for compassion, empathy, and even forgiveness towards those who have hurt us, our family, and our community. Carrie Underwood’s song “Love Wins” is not just about reaching out to our friends, family, neighbors, but also those who are different from us and even those who have hurt us. We don’t know what another person is going through, but only by approaching each other in the spirit of love and forgiveness can we begin to heal our hearts and community.
Key Lyrics: I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers / And I, I believe we’re made to be here for each other / And we’ll never fall if we walk hand in hand / Put a world that seems broken together again / Yeah I, I believe in the end love wins
Questions: What have you found difficult to forgive? Were you able to let go of the hurt or grudge? How? Are some actions unforgivable? What examples of forgiveness do you see around you? How have you been forgiven?
Sometimes we make risky decisions. I don’t need to study for a test. I stay out a little later than I tell my parents. I decide that one drink at a party won’t hurt anything. Then I get busted and have two explain myself to those I respect and care about. Or, on the other hand, I’m the one a friend disappoints and I find the risky choice hard to forgive. Daunt’s song “Beamish Boy” is about blurring lines between wrong and right and ultimately making risky decisions. This week’s SPIRIT theme is about taking responsibility for the consequences that can result when we make hurtful decisions and break our promises.
Key Lyrics: Do you feel the same? / As the road begins to fray / The coming days / And what you’ll say / And you can’t decide / If it’s wrong or it’s right / What you’ve done here / For a better life
Questions: When have you felt disappointed in someone? What were the consequences? How did you forgive and move on or did you? What actions do you find difficult to forgive? When have you been forgiven?
All relationships start out on a foundation of trust. We have a right to feel safe and secure. If we don’t, the relationship becomes toxic. Breaking trust changes not only how we view ourselves and others, but it can also leave permanent scars. Sometimes we have people we can turn to, people who will support and help us understand what happened. Other times we may be too scared to go to anyone for fear of judgement and blame. However, by dealing with the experience, we can eventually figure out a way to move past it and rebuild our trust in ourselves and others. Sia’s song is about surviving a difficult experience and finding peace within oneself.
Key Lyrics: And I will stay up through the night / Let’s be clear, I won’t close my eyes / And I know that I can survive / I walked through fire to save my life
Questions: When have you experienced betrayal? How did you handle the experience? Did you tell anyone about it? Why or why not? What helped you move on from the experience? How can you use the experience to help others who may be going through the same thing?
Making mistakes is a part of growing up. Sometimes we forget that our actions can have consequences, that they can affect not only ourselves but also those around us. Not studying for a test may result in a low grade, staying up too late may lead to oversleeping in the morning, inattentive driving can lead to an accident. Negative consequences can be overwhelming and scary. They can also be reminders that we are not perfect and teach us how to be responsible for our actions. We all make mistakes. We also get second chances. Like the song this week says: “We can turn it into gold dust.”
Key Lyrics: All I know / When the nights grow cold / And it’s all gone to rust / We can turn it into gold dust /Far from home / With these aching bones / Are you just out of love? / We can turn it into gold dust
Questions: When have you needed a second chance? When have you been given a second chance? What did you learn from the experience? When have you given a second chance to someone else? How can you use what you’ve learned to help someone else?
In light of what’s happening in our world today (the multiple school shootings that seem to occur with alarming frequency, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut), we’ve been hearing voices calling out for compassion, even forgiveness towards those who have hurt us, our loved ones, our neighbors. Tori Kelly acknowledges that some voids can only be filled with love and forgiveness, and it is in those moments we are sometimes closest to God.
Key Lines: I confess (yeah), my weakness / Til you pick up the parts that are broken / Pour out your perfection on me now / And hold me / Wrap me in love, fill up my cup / …Cause I’m hollow
Questions: What is a difficult thing for you to forgive? What are some actions you consider unforgivable? What are some examples of forgiveness that you see around? How have you been forgiven?
It’s easy to see some sort of trauma all around us: in the news, on the playground, in the home. It’s also easy to look to God and wonder why bad things happen. Matthew West’s song “Do Something” is a call to action. It urges us to look directly at our world and take in the injustice and change it, whether that’s by signing a petition, standing up for someone, or participating in a program that aims to educate and take on larger social issues. Remember: “No situation is too big for God. If you believe that, it’s not too big for you.”
Key lines: Right now, it’s time for us to do something / If not now, then when / Will we see an end to all this pain / It’s not enough to do nothing / It’s time to do something
Questions: Think about a time you or someone you know went through a traumatic event. How did that event make you feel? How has faith helped you or someone you know overcome a difficult time in your/their life? What are some ways you can pass on what you learned during that difficult time? How can you get involved with others who are possibly going through a similar experience?
Reflection Questions for SPIRIT, November 24th:
1. How forgivable is Derek’s one beer? Do you react more like Anthony, Margaret, or Diane?
2. What do you think the consequences should be?
3. What example does Jesus give us in regard to forgiveness?
4. What do you find hard to forgive?
5. Where and how did Jesus reign today?