In Sunday’s Gospel the Spirit leads Jesus into the desert where he fasts, prays, and chooses his path. The devil offers temptations to show off magical powers—turn stones to bread and test if angels catch him if he jumps off the temple. Jesus chooses the path of keeping the commandment to worship and follow God alone. Jesus choosing his identity and mission. He serves God. SPIRIT tells a familiar high school story—balancing others’ expectations and keeping true to our own expectations and happiness. Who do we want to be? What will becoming that person take? Sasha Sloan’s song “Keep On” is about struggling with these questions while still keeping on the path.
Lyrics:The walls are starting to cave in / Sometimes, I wish I was somebody else / When my mind starts misbehaving / Is when I tell myself / Okay, baby, you’ll be okay / You just gotta keep, gotta keep on
Questions: What pressures and expectations do you face on a daily basis? How does this challenge who you want to be? How do you handle these pressures? What does happiness mean to you?
In high school, moments when we feel on the outside looking in happen a lot. Everyone wants to be popular; everyone wants to be included. Often we feel socially tested, judged about everything from the people we hang out with to the very clothes we wear. It’s also a time when we determine what and who are important to us: is being popular more important than just being ourselves? Who are real friends? The song “Epiphany” is about realizing that we shouldn’t have to change who we are just to please someone else. It’s about recognizing that each of us is worthy of love and respect regardless of what anyone else might say or do.
Lyrics:So weird, I for sure loved you so much / Adapted to you with everything, I wanted to live my life for you / But as I keep doing that I just can’t bear the storm inside my heart / The real myself inside the smiling mask, I reveal it entirely / I’m the one I should love in this world / Shining me, precious soul of mine / I finally realized so I love me / Not so perfect but so beautiful / I’m the one I should love
Questions: What does popularity mean in your school? What or who have your given up to be popular? Why do groups act so cruelly about who is in and who is out? What does it mean to bully another person? What instances of bullying have you seen around your school or community?
Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “…any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” The news constantly confronts us with oppression based on race, gender, beliefs in our society and world. It’s important to recognize ways we keep people down and initiate peaceful changes that ensure that everyone has equal rights to resources and education. Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” is about overcoming barriers and finding strength in standing together to make the world a better place.
Lyrics:You’re broken down and tired / Of living life on a merry go round / And you can’t find the fighter / But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out / …And I’ll rise up / I’ll rise like the day / I’ll rise up / I’ll rise unafraid / I’ll rise up / And I’ll do it a thousand times again / And I’ll rise up / High like the waves / I’ll rise up / In spite of the ache / I’ll rise up
Questions: What are some examples of ways we keep people down in your school and community? What about in our country and our world? How can you help people overcome barrier and rise in a peaceful way? When have you experienced being kept down? How have others helped you rise? What help bridge the gap between you and those who keep you down or count you out? How?
SPIRIT explores service and ways to put our faith into action this week It isn’t easy to see the poverty around us 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, especially young people our own age, want to help if we do see others in tough situations. We serve God when we serve our neighbors. Some people have the means to donate money; some donate time and talents. “Higher Love” is a powerful song about what it means to seek out purpose and to respond to Jesus’ call to serve others. It challenges us to move into action.
Key Lines:Think about it, there must be a higher love / Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above / Without it, life is wasted time / Look inside your heart, and I’ll look inside mine / …Bring me a higher love / Bring me a higher love, oh / Bring me a higher love / Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?
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? What is it?
SPIRIT this week explores ways the Holy Spirit moves in us—in our failures and regrets as well as our gold stars and friendships. Sometimes we sense the Spirit stirring during quiet contemplation. The Spirit risks new friendships with us or pushes to give our best to a challenge. Sia’s song “The Greatest” is all about connecting with a animating presence greater than ourselves, pushing and staying motivated against all obstacles, and embracing life.
Key Lines:Hey, I am the truth / Hey, I am the wisdom of the fallen – I’m the youth / Hey, I am the greatest / Hey, this is the proof / Hey, I work hard, pray hard, pay dues, hey / I transform with pressure, I’m hands-on with effort / I fell twice before my bounce back was special / Letdowns will get you, and the critics will test you / But the strong will survive, another scar may bless you, ah
Questions: When have you pushed yourself beyond old limits to new ones? When have you experienced being part of something greater than yourself?
Jesus’ baptism reveals his true identity and call as the Son of God. For each of us, our baptism is a sign to the world of our identity as children of God. Baptism is the sacrament that initiates us into the Christian community.
Key Lines:You know you’ve got a voice / That you can call your own / So just clear your throat / And start singing this song / Resist the tide, stand in the water / That’s baptism, that’s making light
Questions: What does your baptism mean to you? How does your baptism call you to “resist the tide?” How do you use your voice to speak out for what you believe is right? What does it mean to be a beloved child of God?Who or what helps you see your true identity?
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?
This week’s SPIRIT is about caring for others, being a caregiver and showing compassion for those around us. Whether we care for an elderly person, a child, or someone with a disability, people have remarkable ways of living that can inspire us. Someone’s capacity for strength and resilience can teach us how to approach each day with optimism and laughter. The song “Smile” is about choosing to smile in the face of adversity and infusing our lives with joy.
Key Lyrics:There’s always a reason / To always choose joy / There’s something deeper / That the world can’t destroy / Smile, when you think you can’t / Smile, get up and dance / Smile, there’s a bigger plan / The storm only lasts for a while / So smile
Questions: When have you had to act as a caregiver to someone else? What have you learned from the person? How can you spread care and compassion this holiday season?
This week SPIRIT focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we can find in common with people who hold different beliefs, come from different cultures, and have life experiences unlike our own. We live in a global world with social media and the Internet at our fingertips. We need to learn how to build bridges between ourselves and so many kinds of different others. Coldplay’s song “Everyday Life” reminds us that despite our differences, we are all part of the same human family, we all share the same home. It’s important to remember that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
Key Lyrics:What in the world are we going to do? / Look at what everybody’s going through / What kind of world do you want it to be? / Am I the future or the history? / ‘Cause everyone hurts / Everyone cries / Everyone tells each other all kinds of lies / Everyone falls / Everybody dreams and doubts / Got to keep dancing when the lights go out
Questions: When have you been in conflict or felt frustration with someone from a different background? How might you learn what you have in common? How does listening to the stories of others help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?