Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I recently heard about a worship idea that churches around the world are doing--it's called the U2charist. It started at a church in Maine, when they put together a eucharist service with the music of the rock band U2 and took up a collection for the ONE campaign, a crusade against global poverty and AIDS. U2, and especially their lead singer, Bono, has become known lately for their advocacy on behalf of the poorest of the poor. Last year Bono spoke (or I would say, preached) at the White House prayer breakfast on the need for greater awareness and action on behalf of the world's most impoverished people. But anyone who has listened to their music for a while knows that this passion for justice is nothing new. For years they have written powerful songs about the hope for peace in Northern Ireland ("Sunday Bloody Sunday") about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ("Pride (In the Name of Love)") and their passion comes from their grounding in the Christian faith. So listening to U2 in church, while perhaps a bit unconventional, is not in the least bit heretical.

But what does U2, and the fight against global poverty, have to do with the eucharist? There have been some side conversations about communion at church lately--about the way that people feel we ought to do it (with individual servings of bread and juice? or by intinction?), about who should serve it (anyone? or only the pastor and people who are specifically "trained" for it?) and about what it means (the questions here are less clear, however...). When we celebrate holy communion, it is a reenactment of the last supper that Jesus had with his closest friends. Through the symbols of bread and wine, Jesus tried to explain what his death and resurrection were going to mean--that through his sacrifice all the world would be offered redemption for their sins and new life. When we participate in the eucharist we are made one with Christ and one with each other. It is not how we take communion that's significant, but rather what happens when we do. We are healed from our brokeness, reconciled with one another, and called to new life in Christ. Transformation is inherent in the sacrament of communion. So of course a call to justice, a call for liberation and healing for the world's poor, and music that awakens our conscience and our soul could, no, should be part of a eucharist service. Why not?

So, coming soon to Woodside...the U2charist?