My beloved and I went up to Boston's Church of the Advent yesterday evening for Evensong and Benediction (there's nothing like it), and had a great supper afterwards at Lala Rokh with a friend on the staff. On the way up, we were listening to the U2 Best of 1990-2000 CD, and all I could hear was things I wished someone had submitted a sermon on. Sigh.

It also kind of hit me, though, that some U2 songs stand alone in a way that makes them not lend themselves to being used in a sermon. I expressed surprise to a lot of people that we didn't get a sermon on Mysterious Ways, for example; but then I started thinking in the car, OK, so what are you actually going to do with it in the pulpit? Your sermon makes what point? - God moves in mysterious ways? (zzzzz) It's OK to use female images for God? (zzzzz, at least in my denomination) Men need to get in touch with their intuitive side? (We welcome our guest preacher today, Alan Alda...)

You could quote a line or two in a sermon making a point related to some aspect of the song -- say, people often figure out what God was doing with them by hindsight ("one day you'll look back and you'll see where you were held..."), or even "if you want to kiss the sky you better learn how to kneel" -- but honestly, U2's Mysterious Ways is almost too strong in and of itself to serve in its entirety as a central "text" for a separate proclamatory act. It already is a proclamatory act, especially visually and especially live. (In fact, in that setting it's exactly the kind of "EPIC" proclamatory act Leonard Sweet and people like him keep telling preachers we'd better learn how to do.)

Side comment -- I was looking for a link for the EPIC paradigm (Experiential, Participatory, Image-Based, Connective); I googled "Leonard Sweet EPIC," and the first thing I clicked on talks about Sweet using a live U2 video to illustrate EPIC. I think I saw that very presentation by him in his plenary for the Jan 2001 Group convention! (Elevation from SNL -- right, Leonard? I caused a stir at my pastors' table-group by yelling "God, YES!" when he introduced the clip by saying, "now, you know who understands all this, is Bono.")

No comments: