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?

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Music and the Gospel: “Rise,” Katy Perry

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?

Music and the Gospel: “Friends,” Francis and the Lights, ft. Bon Iver & Kanye West, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

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?

Music and the Gospel: “You’re All I Need,” Foxes, Passion/Palm Sunday

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?