On Saturday we attended our first U2charist: The music of Bono, The Edge and the rest of U2 combined with an Anglican (Episcopalian in the U.S.) communion liturgy. Two very different forces. Do they complement each other, or stand in stark contrast as opposing elements? I’m still not sure. You can read more about it at this Wikipedia page.
I believe part of the concept is to open up the Eucharist to the broader community; perhaps to attract lapsed Anglicans or former C. of E. (Church of England) members. I didn’t see a lot of that, though. Most of the people we saw seemed to be stalwart adherents of the host church. Many were retired. It was actually demographically awkward. My wife reminded me that U2 is a boomer band, but I still clung to the opinion that if only out of curiosity, members of the church’s youth group should have shown up.
We also spoke with a lot of people afterward who said they would have attended had they heard about it, though we did our best to put the word out. The church hired a U2 tribute band, and I must say that for their part, they played their role flawlessly, this being the first U2charist they’ve performed at.
I don’t quite understand why Anglicans can’t worship without the Eucharist. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. What I mean is that it always comes back to the same default. They do have Vespers (Evensong) and something called Compline, but for the most part, the church is very Roman Catholic about re-staging the mass on a rather constant basis. And unless you’ve taken a non-Christian to a high church service lately, the enactment of communion, the drinking of Christ’s blood, which we find rather normal, appears cultic or even pagan to the uninitiated. Could you offer a broader community a “church” experience without the Eucharist? From an Episcopal perspective, maybe not.
Could you do a “rock” Eucharist with the modern music of a leading Christian worship leader such as Paul Baloche, David Crowder, Brian Doerksen or Chris Tomlin? Again, probably not since Anglicans don’t recognize those names at all, much less the wider populace. Still, the ‘worship concert’ format — an oxymoron to some, I realize — is the Evangelical outreach format de jour.
Again, I think the band did a great job and the host church had good intentions. Some of the songs seem well-suited to the occasion. It was the demographics of the audience that failed for me; more effort should have been made to tap into and invite various segments of the community, rather than simply make an announcement and figure that the broader community would come to them.