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?
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?
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?
“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?
This week’s Spirit focuses on open-mindedness and communication, on discovering what we have 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. Lady Gaga’s song “Million Reasons” explores the desire to walk away from someone but acknowledges one reason to stay that overcomes all the others: love.
Key Lyrics: When I bow down to pray / I try to make the worst seem better / Lord, show me the way / To cut through all his worn out leather / I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away / But baby, I just need one good one, good one / Tell me that you’ll be the good one, good one / Baby, I just need one good one to stay
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 others’ stories help you better understand them? When has talking led you to change your mind about someone or something?
As of 2013, roughly 65 million children (over half of them girls) were unable to continue school beyond an elementary grade level. This is especially common in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the girls in these countries are actually expected to get married and start families at very young ages. Schools like the Kenya Girls Soccer Academy aim to help girls to finish their education, which will then allow them to get jobs that will hopefully raise them out of poverty. These schools also create a support system for the girls and encourage them to be more confident in themselves and their capabilities. Pink’s song blazes forth with self-empowerment and strength. It emphasizes the power confidence can give anyone to break through barriers and change their community and the world.
Key Lyrics: Just like fire, burning out the way / If I can light the world up for just one day / Watch this madness, colorful charade / No one can be just like me anyway / Just like magic, I’ll be flying free
Questions: Who is a female role model in your life? In what ways is she strong? What has she had to overcome? What is education important?