This week’s SPIRIT explores the story of magi, three seekers from lands other than Israel who journey to Jerusalem to find the newborn king. Like them we are seekers who see God’s hand in the stars and in all of nature. With God becoming human in Jesus, Christians now also look for ways Jesus appears in our lives. People live his message of love, graciousness, and and compassion all around us, sometimes in the most unexpected places and people. Someone helps a stranger cross an icy street. Someone volunteers his or her own free time to help others. Many makes sacrifices to support their family. Hillsong United’s song “King of Kings” celebrates the birth of Jesus and his message of hope and love.
Lyrics: In the darkness, we were waiting / Without hope, without light / ‘Til from Heaven You came running / There was mercy in Your eyes / To fulfill the law and prophets / To a virgin came the Word / From a throne of endless glory / To a cradle in the dirt / Praise the Father, praise the Son / Praise the Spirit, three in one / God of glory, Majesty / Praise forever to the King of Kings
Questions: In what ways do you see Jesus around you? Who around you embodies his message? What are some ways you find Jesus?
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?
Holy Week is time to reflect on the last days of Jesus’ life—his last supper with his friends, his trial, crucifixion, and death. Throughout his ministry, Jesus teaches humility, compassion, and forgiveness. In his final actions he lives out his message in wholehearted love for us. The song “Becoming” expresses how we look to Jesus as a guide and live his message. It reflects on how we follow Jesus in our relationships with friends, family, and neighbors, how we can be beacons of hope.
Key Lyrics: Life is a house full of rooms / Each door opens to another door / I can’t walk into something new / Till I leave behind where I was before / ‘Cause I, I’m becoming / I, I’m becoming / It’s progress, not perfection / Not arrival, it’s direction / It’s the living and the learning / Not the finish line but the journey
Questions: Reflect back on the past weeks of Lent. What have you discovered about Jesus? About your commitment as his follower? What practices do you want to continue year-round? In what liturgies of Holy Week will you take part?
A rich young man seems eager to follow Jesus until Jesus suggests that he give his money to the poor and come along with him and his other disciples. Teens are the young people Jesus asks to follow him today. These years are the time each of us starts to imagine adult life and recognize that what we believe and how we act may differ from friends, family, or community. St. Kateri Takawitha’s courage and faith exemplifies what it means to find and choose one’s own path.
Key lines: I know you see me as I am / I’m met with kindness / That knows no end / You pull me closer / Oh, there is freedom all around / Here in your presence / My walls come down… / So I’m gonna worship / With my heart wide open
Questions: How do you respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him? To what or who do you give service out of your wealth of energy? Who do you see in your area or parish that needs help? What are you willing to give in service to the less fortunate?
God so loves the world that God’s Son becomes one of us. This is Sunday’s gospel message. Jesus’ mission reveals God’s love as he reaches out to all the people he encounters. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what you’re going through. The song “You Are Loved” reminds us all that God loves and cares for us, imperfections and all.
Key Lyrics: You are loved / If your heart’s in a thousand pieces / If you’re lost and you’re far from reason / Just look up; know you are loved / Just look up; and know you are loved / When it feels like something’s missing / If it hurts but you can’t find healing / Just look up, know you are loved / Just look up, know you are loved
Questions: What relationship does God have with the world? How is this reflected in Jesus’ relationship with his followers? Who shows you love when you feel down? How do you show love to others? What makes relationships difficult?
Jesus begins his ministry with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God draws near. Change your attitude and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus serves as the ultimate role model in how we should treat ourselves and each other; he challenges unjust laws and perspectives; he teaches us the importance of forgiveness and mercy. Just as Jesus leads by example, Bea Miller’s song “Brand New Eyes” is about waking up to the truth of our purpose, regardless of the challenges that may come our way.
Key lines: I’m wide awake now, I’m free of the doubt / Don’t wanna look down / And if I fall out, I lay on the ground / And look to the clouds / It’s like I got brand new eyes, and I can finally see / What has always been right there in front of me / And with these brand new eyes I’ll take in everything / And I will finally see me
Questions: Who serves as a role model for you? What have you learned from your role models? How have you applied what you learned to your own life? How has Jesus influenced your ideas and actions? What challenges have you overcome because you’ve followed Jesus’ example?
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?
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.” Katy Perry’s song “Rise” is about rising above the fray and challenging ourselves and those around us to be better.
Key Lines: I won’t just survive / Oh, you will see me thrive /Can’t write my story / I’m beyond the archetype / I won’t just conform / No matter how you shake my core / ‘Cause my roots, they run deep, oh
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?
This Sunday’s gospel talks about Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers. They call to Jesus, ask him for compassion, and Jesus grants it. There is often more to a person than meets the eye. Sometimes a person doesn’t look or act “normal” by our standards, and we allow that to blind us to the beauty and potential that exist in that person. It is often by showing compassion that we get to know people, understand them, and rise above our own judgment to become better people.
Key Lyrics: We could be friends / Just put your head on my shoulders / I will straighten out, for you / Don’t wanna know if you made mistakes / I’m still waiting on your sunshine
Questions: What were your initial thoughts when you first meet someone who looks or acts different from you? How do you approach him or her? What did you learn from someone different from you? What makes people fit in or not fit in your school?
Holy Week is a time to reflect on the last days of Jesus’ life — his last supper with his friends, his trial, crucifixion, and death. Throughout his ministry, Jesus teaches humility, compassion, and forgiveness. In his final actions he lives out his message in wholehearted love for us. The song “You’re All I Need” expresses how we look to Jesus as a guide. It reflects on how we follow Jesus in our relationships with friends, family, and neighbors, how we can be beacons of hope.
Key Lyrics: You shine like a light blazing down on me / Instead of reaching out, I trace your skin to see / In my head you’re a constant heartbeat / I feel you rushing through my veins / You’re all I need, you always come for me
Questions: Reflect back on the past weeks of Lent. What have you discovered about Jesus, about your commitment as his follower? What practices do you want to continue year-round? In what liturgies of Holy Week will you take part?