How a U2 sermon comes together

Driving home from the U2 concert this morning I turned to my wife Fran and said, “I love the way this sermon is coming together!  It just seems so right… that church happens in this way.”  I  had just received an email from Tim in Edmonton passing on 12 of his concert photos for use in my powerpoint on Sunday (Fran was answering my email!).  Then Brandon posted a comment to my FB page saying he loved Bono’s line from the previous night, “Don’t put your faith in a cloud.”  “I need to include that line in my message”, I thought. Then I get a belated text message from Gary (our church music guy who’ll be doing 4 U2 tunes for worship on Sunday).  He was trying to find us on the field the night of the concert (we take sermon research seriously at New Hope, I was there, Gary was there, Keith our tech guy was there – mostly ogling the sound board I’m sure, and a few of our church leadership team attended as well.) 

Then, as I’m carrying all of these stories in my mind, I was reminded of the 20 different people who posted comments on my blog, or emailed me with their thoughts on how to preach the band this week.  I said that I was planning to use U2 lyrics to tell the Creation, Fall, Redemption, Return story, and asked if people could send me lyrics that coincide with either of the four narrative segments.  Tons of great insight resulted. 

And it all felt so right.  The community of God writing the sermons of God.  Church playing out in all spheres of life.  No lines on the horizon… no lines anywhere… the earth and everything in it, belonging to God.

8 thoughts on “How a U2 sermon comes together

  1. dave wainscott

    Great how you are integrating is so encouraging to hear of other pastors in the club
    (found your post via Beth Maynard’s link

    On the “faith in a cloud”..It has been debated what Bono has been saying in that rap section over the last couple years..I am not sure has has ever said “cloud”

    See several guesses in the comments section here:

    You can see several versions on YouTube.
    Most people hear it as “clown.” Some gear “crowd”.

    recently he has been reversing the imagery, as in “(D0) put your faith in the clown/crown.” Here’s one in Salt Lake:
    Last night I heard them in Oakland, and it sounded like he changed it to “Keep your faith in the clown. Don’t lose faith in the clown.. and it seemed he was talking about himself.

    Last paragraph and video here:

  2. Doris Fleck

    I love your comments here, Brandon. What has always struck me about the “Christianity” of U2 is that they don’t preach, they look inward at their own lives and reach into the well of their soul for insights. Thus they encourage their fans who are believers and create curiosity in their fans who are not. Their lyrics express honesty in their journey, and that appeals to many people who have been hurt by The Church or by well-meaning Christians. U2 does call us to live extraordinary lives, to help the poor and to beleive in our dreams for peace and justice. I wonder how many people’s lives they have changed for the better?

  3. Gman

    As a worship director it is such an amazing privilege to serve in a church where I can lead others in worship with a song like ‘All I Want is You’. But last night, for me to be lead in worship by U2, with that same song…well I just about lost it.

  4. Brandon

    Man what a show. It was like church and a glimse of heaven. Bono treated his music and concert as a church service Calling people to see God in his lyrics, singing honestly of struggle in faith and knowing what is hard to see and know, a call for righteousness with the president of burma and amnesty international to cal people to action for things that demand a stand, the stage was a space ship to take us out of this world. So many things lined up with our chat this week which isn’t by accident. Seeing the beauty in people, a life fully alive, examples of true people that inspire us in a world of so many excuses to not want to follow god based on examples that draw us away from our faith like the old rapture dork. A faith of inclusion and multi cultural and the power of a God moving through the world in Desmond Tutu, Bono, Amnesty, guitar players and fans of all ages. The show made me want to know more and hunger more for God. The true big and wonderful God. There were so many there for a party and missed what he and the band were really trying to say and I loved what he said about not putting your faith in a cloud. In something that lacks substance and foundation. Lines like there are those who pray and those who heal. Calling people to live extrordinary lives. Revelation 7:9-10 felt a bit like what heaven will be like standing in large mass of a crowd with all tribes and nations. There is a reason why U2 is such a huge band and something you can and need to experience in such a large venue as I hate large venues for music. There is power in their message and that power is in our faith and the power of a community to make a change to show and live lives worthy of their calling, fully alive.

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