This article was in our local paper today. It’s about churches that have begun using the music of U2 during their communion (or Eucharist) services. This is not a new idea, but since this one is close to home, I thought I’d voice my comments.
First, one of the expressed reasons that the church offers for using the music of U2 is that it would be familiar to non-church goers. My problem with this is that communion is not for non-church goers. In fact, Paul goes to great lengths in 1 Cor. 11 to warn us of the dangers of taking communion without understanding what it is we’re doing:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” 1 Cor. 11:27-28 (italics mine)
Those are strong words, even for Christians. Not approaching the Lord’s table rightly is a dangerous thing. Do we really want to be inviting those who have not accepted Christ?
Secondly, communion is about what Jesus did on the cross, not about us. It’s about breaking the bread and remembering that His Body was broken so ours could be whole. It’s about taking the cup and realizing that He shed His blood for our sins. It’s about His dying that we might have life. I’m going out on a limb here, I know, but shouldn’t the songs we sing during this time reflect what He has done for us?
Next, why is it that we think we have to try and make Jesus cool? Why is it that we have to try and soup-up the Gospel in order to get people to receive it? Is singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” really going to make Jesus any more acceptable to someone? In my opinion, no. The Holy Spirit does that, not a song. Can He use a song? Absolutely, but I don’t think He’s up there in heaven going “I really wish they could do something to make the music more acceptable to those who hear it.”
Communion is about the cross, and the cross is a stumbling block to this world. No amount of high-tech wizardry, rock songs, lights or “relevant” sermons will ever make them “get it.” Only the love of a Father Who draws us all to Himself can make our dead and dying souls see our need for a Savior.
Having said all that, I will say this: I love U2. I’ve got song after song on my iPod. Bono is walking a path that is very Christ-like in many ways. He has done more good for the world than, sadly, a lot of churches have. And I love the idea of getting people to think about how their faith should impact their world. But just because someone is a great song-writer, or a great singer, or a great philanthropist, it doesn’t make them a great choice for the communion service. How about the church deciding to actually teach the Bible? Might that not make all the difference in the world? Only God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). And no matter how good a songwriter Bono may be, he can’t touch that.