I had to fight back some serious surges of emotion tonight as a dream came true for me. I’d always wanted to share with my church what it is about U2 that moves me so much, what it is about their work that has transformed my life and drawn me closer to God.
My pastor invited me to do just that this week, and tonight I was given the better part of an hour to tell U2’s story, to draw the attention of the congregation to the poetry of Bono’s lyrics, to talk about how cleverly and brilliantly they weave themes of grace, echoes of Scripture, and reminders of Christ into their music.
I must thank, and thank, and thank Nathan Partain for performing three U2 songs beautifully … and on very short notice. (Thanks also to Luke, who backed him up on piano and accordion.) He sang “Until the End of the World,” “The First Time,” and “Wake Up Dead Man” with passion and skill, and in that way kept us focused on the art of the songs instead of upon the celebrities who composed them.
As usual, I was over-prepared and thus had to cast aside about 25 pages of fascinating quotes from band members about their faith and how it influences their work. But I hope that tonight was a preview, a teaser, a nudge that will lead people to the rich reservoir of U2’s spiritual rock-and-roll. And for the fans who were nodding and mouthing the lyrics along with Nathan’s performance, I hope they were given a little deeper insight into the profundity of the band’s work.Unfortunately, I was not very aware of the limitations of my microphone, so apparently some of what I said was lost in space. I need to learn to use microphones better. Bono could probably teach me a thing or two about stage presence.
Anyway, it was a thrill to finally explain what that whole “MacPhisto” costume was all about. (Bono’s devil costume, which he wore on stage in the 90s, was… and he admits this openly… a nod to C.S. Lewis’s “Screwtape Letters,” in which letters from the Devil reveal to us the value of obeying God. “Mock the devil, and he will flee from you.”)
And it was a blessing to have permission to turn up U2’s “40” on the church speakers and let it play as a prayer in the sanctuary.