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?
The holidays pull us in many directions. Sometimes we don’t recognize the people most important to us—those who love us, shelter us, feed us—until something forces us to slow down. Waiting can give us time to remember what and who we count on and how fortunate we really are. Chris Janson’s song “Good Vibes” is about slowing down and taking stock of all we have to be thankful for. It’s about appreciating the good things we have in our lives.
Key Lyrics: I’m gettin’ them good vibes / I’m livin’ this good life / I’m breathin’ on God’s time / And I ain’t gonna waste one breath / I’m soakin’ it all up / I got me a full cup / And there ain’t nothin’ gonna spill it / Nothin’ gonna kill it / Wavin’ them worries goodbye / I’m feelin’ them good vibes
Questions: When have you been forced to slow down or wait for something? How did waiting affect you? What insights into yourself or the situation did you experience? What are you thankful for this Advent season?
Resentment and anger are powerful emotions that can lead us to lose control and say or do things we don’t mean. These feelings can lead us to inflict our own pain on someone else, can make us push away those we love, and resent those who seem to “have it all.” On the other hand, anger can be positive. It can force conversations around issues requiring social change/justice or help us push through a difficult or painful situation. By dealing with our own anger or resentment, we can learn valuable lessons in forgiveness and apologies. Meduza’s song “Lose Control” is about recognizing when our negative emotions are taking over as well as acting on feelings of compassion.
Key Lyrics: Why do I feel like I’m drowning / Like I’m running out of air, ah / Why do I feel like I’m falling / When I’m nowhere near the edge, ah / Just let me know / Can you be the one to hold and not let me go? / I need to know / Could you be the one to call when I lose control?
Questions: Who or what has made you feel angry? How did you deal with it? When have you felt resentful and been able to let the resentment go? When have you made someone else angry? How did this person forgive you?
This week’s SPIRIT theme is about taking responsibility for the consequences that can result when we make hurtful decisions and break our promises. Sometimes we make risky decisions. I don’t need to study for a test. I stay out a little later than I tell my parents. One drink at a party won’t hurt anything. Then I get busted and have to explain myself to those I respect and care about. Or, on the other hand, I’m the one a friend disappoints and I find the risky choice hard to forgive. NF’s song “Let You Down” is about disappointing someone we respect and love, as well as disappointing ourselves. It’s a reminder that we are ultimately the ones responsible for our decisions and must also deal with the consequences.
Key lines: Feels like we’re on the edge right now / I wish that I could say I’m proud I’m sorry that I let you down / Le-le-let you down / All these voices in my head get loud / I wish that I could shut them out / I’m sorry that I let you down / Le-le-let you down
Questions: When have you felt disappointed in someone? What were the consequences? How did you forgive and move on or did you? What actions do you find difficult to forgive? When have you been forgiven?
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We all make choices, some safe and some risky. As the main character in this week’s SPIRIT story sits in the ditch in a car full of friends, she wonders if God kept her safe because rubbed the cross on her visor before they started out. Her friends point out that God is always with us, no matter what choices we make and in every circumstance. The song “To The Ground” tells how one decision can change everything and how choices have consequences. We can trust in God to stay with us no matter the consequences but not to prevent them.
Key lines: The arms lost control / Slipped and began to roll / And on the wings of an ocean gale / He crashed right through the rail / Down to the valley below / To the valley below / ….Return to the ground / To the ground
Questions: What choices have you made without seeing the consequences? When have you been lucky enough to escape consequences you didn’t see coming? When have you felt God’s presence in a tough time? How has faith helped you make decisions or get through a difficult time?
People react to grief or to breaking up in different ways. Some people distance themselves and internalize their grief. Others may express their grief and adapt quickly to their loss. The loss of a loved one can shake up any family and environment. The song “My Song Too” is a reminder that even when those we love are gone, they live on within us. They have helped make us who we are.
Key lines: But it’s my song too / I know you’re gone but every word’s still true / It’s alright if it’s all that’s left / ‘Cause you, you left me better than you found me / It’s crazy I still sing it but I do / It’s my song too / Oh there’s love in every lyric / You live in every note / Don’t hate me if I never let go / It’s my song too
Questions: When have you experienced loss? How did you handle the experience? How did the people around you handle it? What and who helped keep you steady during this time?
People influence us. Voices in our minds put us down. Voices around us judge us based on where we are from, how we speak, how we dress, even their skin color. These snap judgments can prevent us from being open and accepting and can create an environment of silence that can be even more hurtful than words spoken aloud. Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say” is about remembering who God says we are—that we are more than the judgments people make about us. We are valuable and worthy human beings who are more than our failures in our own and others’ eyes.
Key lines: I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough / Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up / Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low / Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know / Ooh oh / You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing / You say I am strong when I think I am weak / And you say I am held when I am falling short / And when I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours / And I believe (I) / Oh I believe (I) / What You say of me (I) / I believe
Questions: When have you judged someone? When have you felt judged? How do you treat someone who creates distance from you? Who does God say you are? What helps you remember who God says you are? How can you help create bridges between different groups within your community?
“All who make little of themselves will be lifted up, but all who make much of themselves will be brought down.” (Luke 18.14) It is difficult to work hard on achieving a goal or building a team only to find out we’ve been “benched.” “Got It In You” is about losing what we think is our rightful place but remembering that we still have it within ourselves to be part of a team and be supportive of those around us. Humility can open our eyes to who we really are and help us better serve our teams, communities, and people.
Key lines: Holding back the flood / In this skyscraper town / You give all that sweat and blood / Now you think you’re gonna drown / You can’t tell that you’re bigger / Than the sea that you’re sinking in / And you don’t know what you got / But you got it at your fingertips
Questions: When were you forced to sit on the sidelines? How did you feel about this? What did you learn from this experience? What does humility mean to you?
According to the United Nations, 1 in 5 children between the ages 6 through 17 are unable to attend school. The number of girls who attend school falls short in matching the number of boys. In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa cultures expect girls 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.
Maren Morris’ song “Girl” is a powerful anthem for self-empowerment. It reflects the strength it takes to break through barriers and help each other take on social injustices so that we can make the world a more equal and better place for all people.
Key Lyrics: What you feel is natural / But I don’t wanna feel this anymore / Pick yourself up off the kitchen floor / What you waitin’ for? / Girl, won’t you stop your cryin’? / I know that you’re tryin’/ Everything’s gonna be okay / Baby girl, don’t you hang your head low / Don’t you lose your halo / Everyone’s gonna be okay / Baby girl
Questions: Who is a female role model in your life? In what ways is she strong? What has she had to overcome? Why is education important? How can you empower those around you?
Jesus’ encounters ten lepers in Sunday’s gospel. Lepers experienced people shunning them. The lepers in the gospel call to Jesus, ask him for compassion, and Jesus grants it. The voices in “Beautiful People” feel second class to those with more money and things. The need for superficial things can blind some people to the beauty and potential that exist in in every person. Showing compassion is one way to get to know and understand people, and rise above our own misjudgments. Ed Sheeran’s song “Beautiful People” is about seeing things and people for who and what they really are.
Key lines: We don’t fit in well / ‘Cause we are just ourselves / I could use some help / Getting’ out of this conversation, yeah / You look stunning, dear / So don’t ask that question here / This is my only fear, that we become / Beautiful people
Questions: What were your initial thoughts when you first meet someone who looks or acts different from you? How did you approach him or her? What did you learn? What makes people fit in or not fit in your school?