I’ve never actually been to a “U2charist” myself. But after being at the band’s show last night and actually getting to participate at one point, I can definitely understand why people find them so uplifting and meaningful. Not only do U2 know how to rock a stadium, but their songs are filled with messages of love and salvation.
First, a little background… Alex Baumgarten, our colleague at the Episcopal Public Policy Network, sent around an appeal for volunteers to go to the Meadowlands in New Jersey and help recruit supporters for ONE – the advocacy organization co-founded by Bono, the lead singer of U2. The group’s goal is the same as Episcopal Relief & Development’s: fighting extreme poverty and hunger, and supporting the Millennium Development Goals. I quickly responded to Alex’s email, and was surprised to find out that I was one of the first two people to reply!
After much excited anticipation, the day of the show finally came around, and I can say that it was totally worth the two-hour bus misadventure just to be there with all the other fans and ONE volunteers. I got to meet loads of really nice and social-justice-minded people while canvassing in the parking lots for new ONE members, and just getting into the show was a thrill, since it was my first U2 concert. I totally cried during “Mysterious Ways,” and loved just watching the guys play. But the best part was getting to actually walk on stage with other volunteers during “Walk On,” which the band dedicated to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the thousands of others who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs.
The feeling of unity at the show, with the stadium packed to the brim and the love that U2 inspires, actually reminded me a lot of how it feels to be at church. Not the spectacle or the lights or the stage or anything (I’m Lutheran and very much a fan of traditional worship), but the community and the message that even though we’re not perfect, it’s going to be okay because love (i.e., God) is going to make it okay.
Bono quoted a Leonard Cohen lyric at the show: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I think that really speaks to the core of our faith, and to the core of the work done by organizations like ONE and Episcopal Relief & Development. We are not perfect, and the world is not perfect, but the light of love and God heals us and makes us whole.
Faith Rowold is the Communications Assistant for Episcopal Relief & Development