I attended my first U2charist last night. Some time back I had read in the news about the Episcopal Church having U2charist but only recently became aware of a local church having one.
It was.... different. Good ...but different. But good. Growing up in the First Church of God non-denominational movement where things are pretty laid back, a liturgical service was way outside of my experience. I like it. I think there can be great value the traditional liturgy. For me part of the beauty of the body of Christ is the differences within that body. For me, no one church or denomination has it all - each have their own strengths and weaknesses and that's why we need each other. A particular style of worship may or may not be my "thing" but it still holds value for me.
I still felt terribly awkward and out of place. I knew I belonged there among other believers but it felt so strange. The music was good of course. It was all U2 music - no hymns or other "Church music". The lyrics were displayed on the big screen with moving video footage running throughout that complimented the message and the music. I like that. Even though I've listened to U2 since the 80's and now listen to them more than ever, I still found meanings in songs I've heard for years that I didn't realize was there.
I also liked the sermon. I learned something and was encouraged. There was something in it that I can apply to my life and benefit from. To be honest, having the sermon read seemed a little stiff and rigid to me, but it's not the delivery that matters - the message is what matters and the message was good. I'd take a read message that benefits me in some way over a well-delivered one that doesn't' anytime.
I also liked the focus on social justice issues, namely the One Campaign. There was a table set up for people to sign the One Declaration and the entire service was dedicated to encouraging people of faith to get involved in making a positive impact on our world. Sometimes I hear people criticize saying, "they only preach a social justice". I disagree. I was there and yes, there was social justice preached but the message of Jesus' sacrifice for our salvation was very much the center of the service and was presented as the reason for our service. I'm not sure you can have one without the other and both were communicated unashamedly. I like that.
The only thing I didn't like was feeling so awkward. I could have enjoyed he service more and benefited from it more if I hadn't been so nervous about doing something wrong. I suspect that feeling of awkwardness will slowly go away with each exposure. I will probably go back next month.
Speaking of differences. One of the things I really like about our church is the people. We have wonderful, giving, loving, fun people who really do like each other - most of the time anyway. Since the U2charist started earlier in the day I was able to make it back to my own church and only be 30 min. late. That gave me the opportunity to hang out with some of the people at church. In fact, we all went to a restaurant after the service and had fun. One man who will remain nameless even threw a muffin across the restaurant at the people from our church who were sitting at another table. Crazy bunch but they do know how to have fun and enjoy each others' company.
Wow, I think last night I got to experience the best of both worlds.