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July 09, 2007

U2charist Coming to Christ Church - Christ Church Anchor

"A Multimedia Rock Concert Meets the Eucharist"

February 2007

By Richard Belshaw

At 5:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, March 11, Christ Church will do something it has never done before: host a U2charist. A what???

A U2charist is, for all those familiar with the music of the Irish rock band U2, essentially what it says it is - a Eucharist with U2 music. The actual band will not be in attendance - they comprise, after all, four of the world's most popular musicians - but their music and message will be; listened to, sung, chanted, danced to, and accompanied (at times) by other musicians.

Think of it as "multimedia rock concert meets Eucharist" -- informality, dancing, clapping, and movement in the aisles as well as the pews are not only encouraged, but assumed. The music, loud and emotional, demands ecstatic response which the Eucharist by its very nature is only too
happy to reciprocate. The result is a unique spiritual experience -- a new way of being together, worshipping together, and proclaiming the Gospel.

This very new way of “doing” liturgy was conceived a few years ago by a woman living in Maryland named Sarah Dylan Breuer, who, as it happens, enrolled this year as a seminarian at my school, Episcopal Divinity School. What makes a U2charist work is the power of the song lyrics, which are striking in the way they mirror our Anglican theological ethos of mission to those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is not a coincidence: the members of U2 have been as concerned with justice issues in the world as they have been with writing and performing the music that expresses that concern. Indeed, lead singer Bono (pronounced BAW-no, for those who aren’t quite that familiar with the band) was named Time magazine's person of the year with Bill and Melinda Gates for his efforts in promoting an end to poverty in the world, particularly in Africa. This makes the Millenium Development Goals an ideal and specific focus of the liturgy. And in fact, the readings, sermon, and collection are all tied to them, and projected images on a screen will accent the MDGs. This service is all about the message of eradicating world poverty as an expression of our faith. We become unified in communion, a witness to the way that we want to see the world unified.

A U2charist was celebrated at last summer’s General Convention and have happened in a few dioceses around the country. This will be the first one to take place in New Hampshire. Believe it or not, there are teams of clergy who have been “trained” to lead U2charists, one of which will be with us on March 11.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, who some may recognize from her participation in our Via Media roundtable discussions last spring, will preside and I am pleased to report that Dylan Breuer herself will be with us in a leadership role. Five or six fellow seminarians will be here lending logistical support and their musical gifts.

Christ Church's youth group will be taking an active role in advertising, drumming up support, and helping behind the scenes. An invitation to attend will be sent to local churches and throughout the diocese. Please mark your calendars - this is unlike any worship you have ever previously experienced!

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July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink

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