Heifer International is an organization that makes its mission to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world, a mission like Jesus’ own. It is featured in Spirit this week. Heifer educates people about the lives of people who need help with the basics to thrive. The learning center invites young people to experience a “day in the life” of families from different countries where poverty is more common. The song “Tapestry” is about taking stock of the world around us and opening our minds to people we don’t know, who live differently than we do, who get by with less. Real world situations open our eyes to people’s needs in ways that can become part of our tapestry. We can learn to approach social issues with compassion and work together on creative solutions that help raise people up.
Key lines: Have you felt a revolution? / Do you ever sit to stop and pause / Just to take a little moment / To see what’s mine and yours? / And all the things that I’ve seen / You will always be part of my tapestry / And all the places I’ve been / You will always be part of my tapestry
Questions: How hard is finding God in the world today? When have you experienced God? What in the natural world inspires you? Who in the human community inspires you? Who helps you step beyond yourself in your concerns?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches us the way to love God is to love one another. It doesn’t matter who we love, what religion we adhere to, what color our skin is, where we are on the economic scale. What matters the most is that we treat each other with respect, fairness, and kindness. The song “Here For You” is a promise to always stand by each other in the face of ignorance. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to be there for each other. In doing this, we create a safe community for all.
Key lines: When you feel you’ve had enough, and you wasted all your love / I’ll be here for you, here for you / When the dog is at his bone, and you run away from home / I’ll be here for you, here for you / Well I’m here for you, I’m here for you, you, you
Questions: What types of disrespect do you see in your school, community, country? What do you think can be done to challenge people who like to exclude others? When have you showed mercy to someone who wronged you? When has someone shown you mercy?
Not all the people in our communities and nation have the same access to education, healthcare, and justice. This week’s SPIRIT spotlights Appalachia and the effects of mountaintop mining. The song “Sea Change” asks us why are we closing our eyes to the plight of people in our midst who are poor when we are all in this world together.
Key lines: So where will we go when the waters threaten to wash us away? / And all of our sons and our daughters wilt in the heat of the day? / I feel the sun draw nearer, I feel the sea start to rise / Who’s looking back in the mirror? Why are they closing —Why are they closing their eyes? / …Why are we closing our eyes?
Questions: When have you closed your eyes to a problem in your community or school? When have you opened your eyes to a problem? What did you learn or do about it? What duties does government have for the people it serves? How do you balance serving God and following the laws of our country? What issues make you struggle to answer?
Immigration is a fiery topic today. Some people welcome immigrants; some resist others different from them. This week’s SPIRIT explores how accepting new people and cultures can benefit our communities and schools and expand our relationships with those around us. The song “One of Us” is about celebrating our differences and accepting people into our homes, communities, and lives.
Key lines: Everybody needs a place to call their home / Everybody’s skin is different, not their bones / Even when you’re lonely, know you’re not alone / You’re one of us, one of us, one of us / One of us / Bring the sunshine in / The happy days / The hardship, too / We’ll find a way / So raise your flag / One last time / Before the day is through, I promise you / That we will laugh about it all / And we’ll celebrate the things we’ve done for years to come / ‘Cause that’s what friends, that’s what friends are for
Questions: What challenges do you think immigrants face in new places? What challenges have you faced if you are an immigrant? What do you think helps ease these challenges? What have you learned from people of different cultures? Who do you notice being excluded in your community?
Jesus is with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Sunday’s gospel, three friends he loves. Spirit explores where and how we make our homes, friends, and families. Some people consider the people they live with as their only family; others create families by befriending others, caring about them, and keeping in touch. Cameron Perra met kids who quickly became family when he accompanied his dad who did medical work at an orphanage in Honduras. When we open ourselves up to people around us, we open ourselves up to new experiences, perspectives, and love.
Key Lines: Home is where I want to be / But I guess I’m already there / I come home, she lifted up her wings / Guess that this must be the place
Questions: What does home mean to you? Where are you most at home? How do you define what it means to be a family? Who belongs to your family?
“Without roots in the people, no government can avail, much less when it wants to impose its program through bloodshed and sorrow.” In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated not long after he spoke these words. Romero challenged his government to end the violence that was sweeping through his country and killing his people. He refused to be silent about the injustice that was affecting the poorer classes of El Salvador. The song “Believer” is about recognizing the pain that injustice causes and using it as a force to bring about personal and social change.
Key Lines: First things first / I’ma say all the words inside my head / I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh-ooh / The way that things have been, oh-ooh / …Singing from heartache from the pain / Take up my message from the veins / Speaking my lesson from the brain / Seeing the beauty through the… / Pain!
Questions: Who do you see standing up injustice to people who are poor? What examples of injustice do you see in our society? How can you take a stand against them?
It isn’t easy to see the poverty in our own backyards if we are not living in it. People living without what they need don’t want us to see what is happening. Most of us want to help if we do see others, especially young people our own age, in tough situations. We serve God when we serve our neighbors. Some people have the means to donate money; other people donate time and talents. This week’s SPIRIT explores service and ways to put our faith into action. The song “In The Name Of Love” is a powerful song about what it means to be called to a higher purpose or cause. It’s also a challenge to move us into action.
Key Lines: I wanna testify / Scream in the holy light / You bring me back to life / And it ’s all in the name of love
Questions: Where do you see people living in poverty in your community? What are some ways you can serve in your local community? When have you felt called to a higher purpose?