“WIDE AWAKE” May 23rd – June 27th

Theme: Amplifying God’s justice and mercy in the world.

Join us as we explore various social justice issues prevalent in society today.  For we are called as followers of Christ to be those that amplify Gods justice and mercy in the world.  Therefore our calling begins with awareness. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s the band U2 became and international phenomenon.  But through their fame and success they were positioned to address societal issues that they deeply cared about.  With a combination of deep-rooted faith and a passion for activism, Bono, Larry, Adam and the Edge played a crucial role in bringing about monumental change within these global concerns.  The question for us is, in our community how can we do the same? So for the next 6 weeks, let’s become wide awake and amplify God’s mercy and love. 

May 23rd – “How Long?” – Psalm 40:1-8 (Pentecost Sunday)

Theme: Using our gifts to bring change in the world. Back in the 1980’s the band U2 would close their concerts the same way every night, with the song called 40.  This was a straightforward translation of Psalm 40.  However the song would end with the refrain “How long to sing this song?”  This phrase would be repeated over and over.  Psalm 40 asks us the same question.  How long will we allow poverty, violence, inequality, or racism to prevail?  What the psalmist asks of us, and the band U2 highlights, is our need to sing a new song and to use our gifts in order to be agents of change in the world.

May 30th – “I Can’t Believe the News Today” – Psalm 46

Theme: Reconciling our differences through peace. “Bloody Sunday” was a term given to an incident that happened in 1972 in Northern Ireland.  As children, the members of U2 became well aware of the horrors of violence, when British soldiers shot at point blank range unarmed civilians who were peacefully protesting.  Similar acts of violence, especially gun violence, have become a core issue in our country.  A political tug of war exists between the right to bear arms and the freedom of expression.  When performing their hit song Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bono would typically exclaim at the beginning, “This is not a rebel song.” His point was that this song was not a call to action, it was a plea for peace.  For the Lord is our refuge and strength, the psalmist tells us. God says to us, “I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth; therefore, be still and know that I am God.”

June 6th – “We’re One, But We’re Not the Same” – Psalm 133

Theme: Seeking equality within our diversity. During a hometown show at the end of 1989, Bono took a minute to air his band’s dirty laundry.  It was the end of a long tour and the band was beyond exhausted.  There were family issues, newborn children, and marriages beginning to fall apart.  This manifested in a creative malaise that overtook the band.  Bono told the crowd, “This is the end of ‘something’ for U2.  We have to go away and dream it all up again.”  How often do we find ourselves at an impasse?  Whether it be with a loved one, a friend, or co-worker.  We see division in the streets of our cities, on the borders of our country, even within our family sitting around the dinner table.  Is it time to dream up something new again?  U2’s song One, recorded in 1991, literally brought the band back together.  Much in the same way that the band found a new connection with one another through this song, we are reminded in the words of Psalm133, “How good and pleasant it is when we live together in unity.”  

June 13th – “I Believe In The Kingdom Come” – Psalm 6

Theme: Finding hope when feeling lost. Bono has often referred to U2’s hit song, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For as, “a gospel song with a restless spirit.”  He has gone on to say that the song is an anthem of doubt more then faith.  We live our lives in the midst of a global pandemic, significant societal division, and financially driven fears.  We live with doubt, questioning our well-being, our families future, and even the future of our planet.  It is no wonder that anxiety and depression is at an all-time high.  But we find echoes of hope in the cries and laments of the psalmist. For David writes he is languishing, that his bones are shaking with terror, and his bed is flooded with tears; all sentiments we can relate to. But he also writes of the assurance he possesses in knowing that the Lord has heard his cries and accepts his prayer.  Perhaps we still haven’t found what we are looking for, but our search should lead us to the cries of David; for that is where we find a spirit of hope.

June 20th – “In the Name of Love” – Psalm 20 (Father’s Day)

Theme: Confronting racism with pride. Pride (In the Name of Love) is U2’s celebration of non-violent human rights activists who put their lives on the line for the good of the cause.  More specifically, the song is inspired by the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.   King is an example of how to bring about change in civil rights through peace, love, and a sense of pride.  Not in a boastful way, but a sense of humble conviction that is motivated by the full appreciation of the dignity and sanctity of human life. This pride is really an expression of God’s love for all humanity.  Our calling as followers of Christ is to stand for and stand with the oppressed and the marginalized; to be unsettled by systems that promote inequality.  So we don’t look for justice through self-serving means, we take pride in the name of the Lord our God.  For that is where the victory is won.

June 27th – “Wide Awake” – Psalm 121

Theme: Committing to being agents of peace. In 1985, the world was brought together by an historical event that consisted of two major concerts: one in London, the other in Philadelphia.  Live Aid was an effort to bring awareness and relief to the extreme hunger and poverty that was ravaging Africa.  In U2’s fifteen-minute set, Bono took the opportunity to express to the world the importance of the moment and where our focus should lie.  Not on the famous acts that were performing, not on the overall spectacle of the event, but on the needs of our neighbors.  During the performance of their song Bad, Bono sang the words “I’m wide awake” as a message for us all.  We are called to be awake too, to draw near to the suffering around us.  Yet becoming aware of the major social concerns within our world is just the beginning.  The question is, will we remain asleep, will we continue to slumber?  Where will help come from?  The psalmist reminds us that our help comes from the Lord. Therefore, it’s time to be wide-awake as the Lord uses us to bring change.