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?
This week’s SPIRIT is about walking a mile in another person’s shoes. Every year, the students of St. Paul High School walk 26 miles to raise money for a local soup kitchen. They walk through different communities and meet new people, wealthy and poor. Their journey also gives the students time to reflect and change their perspectives on how the less fortunate exist in our communities or what the caravan of migrants walking to the U.S. border experience as they seek a better life. Lauren Daigle’s song “Rescue” is about hearing someone’s call of need and answering them, whether it’s by listening, walking, or simply volunteering time and resources.
Key Lyrics: I hear you whisper underneath your breath / I hear your SOS, your SOS / I will send out an army to find you / In the middle of the darkest night / It’s true, I will rescue you / I will never stop marching to reach you / In the middle of the hardest fight / It’s true, I will rescue you
Questions: Who like those in the migrant caravan are on a journey in our world? How can you learn more about why migrants or immigrants are walking and help them? When have you taken a difficult journey? What did you learn from this experience? What can you do to help people rebuild their lives?
In Sunday’s gospel Jesus identifies the two greatest commandments–to love God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbor as ourselves. All of us, regardless of circumstances, can live these basic commandments rather than stereotype, judge, and disrespect others. We have the capabilities to brighten someone’s day, help people, spread joy, and learn from those different from us. The song “Love Song” is a reminder to love every day.
Lyrics: You are good to me / Still even better than I think / You are strong for me / For every time that I can’t be / I love You / It’s simple to say / But I love You / More every day / You see my heart and You know that it’s true / I love You / I love You, yes, I do / Yes, I do
Questions: How do labels affect how you see people around you? How does the fear of being labelled prevent you from being your true self? How can you help change the negative implications that labels can impose on others?
“Whoever among you wants to be first must serve the needs of all. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” This week’s SPIRIT focuses on service and the ways we can use our gifts to serve people who need our skills or help put food on the shelves for hungry people or organize a sleep out to raise money to shelter homeless people. Hearing Jesus’ call to serve means finding ways to share our resources and sustain our neighbors and community. TobyMac’s song, “It Starts With Me” reminds us that a movement to help others can start from one small spark, one person.
Key lines: Cause we can be free, yeah I know that / Let’s try to fix the things that’s been broke down / ‘Cause we can be free, yeah I know that / And it starts with me / This language that I speak / This dream on you and me / But one choice from together / It starts with me
Questions: What service to others would like to do or start in your community or school? What has past experience working on a service project taught you or how has it changed your perspective? How do you define “greatness?” How does Jesus define “greatness?” What kind of community do you want for yourself and the world?
Jesus calls forth their best selves in his disciples and sends his friends forth to spread the good news of his resurrection. Thomas touches the risen Jesus’ wounds and believes. SPIRIT extends the call that echoes down the centuries to continue Jesus’ mission, to go forth, and help our neighbors during times of need and crises. The song “We Got the Power” is an anthem about loving each other and working together towards a better future.
Key lines: We got the power to be loving each other / No matter what happens / We’ve got the power to do that / On a le pouvoir de s’aimer, okay? / We got the power to be ringing the great bell out there above us / We got the power for that / We got the power to do that
Questions: When have you experienced a community in crisis from tragedy or disasters? What did people need? What ways did you find to help people? When have you seen a community stand together? What initiatives would you like to start or volunteer for within your community?
Lent scripture readings include great moments in Israel’s history, this week the giving of the ten commandments. SPIRIT explores what the commandments ask of us in our relationship with God and with our families, friends, neighbors, and even people we dislike. The commandments expect us to respect all people because ALL are equal in the eyes of God. Poverty leaves some people, especially women, without basic needs for themselves or their children. In many cultures and countries, women have few rights, little education, and diminished access to opportunities. Alicia Keys’ song “Superwoman” is about empowerment, strength, and continuing to fight for a better life, one where all have rights and protections.
Key Lyrics: For all the mothers fighting / For better days to come / And all my women, all my women sitting here trying / To come home before the sun / And all my sisters / Coming together / Say yes I will / Yes I can / I am a Superwoman / Yes I am / Yes she is / Even when I’m a mess / I still put on a vest / With an S on my chest / Oh yes / I’m a Superwoman
Questions: What injustices do you experience or see in your school or neighborhood? In the world today? Who is working to right these injustices? How can you help? What commandments are especially important today? What new commandments do we need? How do you stand up for what you believe?
Jesus reveals who he is more fully Peter, James, and John in the transfiguration gospel this Sunday. The vision anticipating Jesus’ resurrection scares, confuses, and amazes the three disciples. Fear can cause us to hide our true selves from those around us. It can keep us from recognizing who someone else really is; it can prevent us from reaching out to others and affirming them. The song “Do Right” is about reaching out to others, letting them know that we see them, and doing right by the people around us.
Key lines: I miss the way my mama knew what to do / She said to do right by your neighbor / And they’ll do right by you / When we get older we can forget the truth / That if you do right by your neighbor / Then they’ll do right by you
Questions: What do you risk when you speak your truth? When have you opened up about something you’ve been scared to share? What does it mean to “do right” by your neighbor? What can you do to reach out to those in need? When has someone else affirmed you and made a transforming difference?