Tuesday 18 August 2009

Did you come here to Play Jesus?

Something I've Never Seen Before

Paul Noble is up in Scotland at the moment for the U2 gig there. He was incredibly excited to even be able to get a ticket.


Chapter 7

They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beg­gar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, "Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!" Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, "Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped in his tracks. "Call him over." They called him. "It's your lucky day! Get up! He's calling you to come!" Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. Jesus said, "What can I do for you?" The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "On your way," said
Jesus. "Your faith has saved and healed you." In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10:46-52 MSG)

THE ATMOSPHERE in the arena was thick with anticipation.It literally felt humid. My friend Mike Stewart, who also happens to be a priest, and I were waiting for the concert to start. U2's Vertigo tour had rolled into Vancouver, and we were ready to join the throngs in welcoming the band. I didn't like our seats, but I thought that instead of grumbling about it, I would take a look for Jesus in the room. With the eyes of faith, I sensed that he might be settling into some "nosebleed seats" high in the balcony, ready with joy for the worship he would receive that night. I also sensed him speaking to my heart: "Watch Bono. At some point tonight, he and I will be interchangeable." I raised my eyebrows at this. Was my love of the band's frontman and his message distorting what I heard? Nevertheless, I felt such a strong presence of God in the place that I turned to Mike and said, "There's so much power in the room that if Bono says, 'Be healed,' I'll bet ten people would get healed. You watch!"
As the concert proceeded, Mike and I sang along at the top of our lungs. So many of the songs were direct prayers and mod­ern Psalms. One song sorely missing from the set list that night was Yahweh, one in which Bono offers himself in service to God. In
twenty-first century metaphors, the lyrics echo the old hymn of consecration, Take My Life and Let It Be.
In this updated version, Bono offers God his shoes, his shirt, and his soul, recognizing that grace must do a work to fit him and cleanse him for service. He gives God his hands, prone as they are to clenching into fists. He dedicates his mouth—"so quick to criticize "—and pleads for the kiss that will fill his mouth with good news. He finishes with a plea:
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart, take this heart, Take this heart, and make it break.
He has and he will do all of these things, Bono. It's not just messiah complex or megalomania. God really has called us to "be Jesus" to others. To be his hands, his heart, his voice in this world. In fact, that night I actually saw it happen...
As the concert continued, I noticed a commotion down front. Someone had pushed a woman in a wheelchair through the mob toward the stage. She held up a large poster and kept wav­ing it toward the stage. I was able to borrow some opera glasses from a fan behind me and had a good angle from which to read the sign. The large block letters said, "If I ditch this wheelchair, will you dance with me?"
Bono took note, stopped mid-stride, and spoke: "Itpays to advertise." Then he extended his hand. The crowd actually picked up the woman and passed her from the chair over their heads to the stage. Bono pulled her up and they stood dancing fora brief time. It seemed awkward, she was wobbly, but she was dancing. Her jacket, which had been tied to her waist, fell to the floor and Bono stooped to pick it up and re-tie it. Then she stepped down off the stage, and Bono seemed to beckon the friend who had brought her. She was also passed up to the stage and danced fora bit.
Mike and I looked at each other, amazed. My first thought
was, Is this for real? Then, This can't be a scam—her dance is far too awkward. And even if... What faith for Bono to reach out his hand! Then I laughed, If this is for real, how is Bono going to deal with the stigma of becoming a faith-healer?
As always, the band left that night to the sound of the whole stadium singing acapella from Psalm 40 David's messianic
prayer—in heartful unison. The original psalm reads this way in verse 1-3 of the New International Version:
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
Then all together, the crowd sang U2's refrain,
And I will sing, sing a new song. I will sing, sing a new song.
Turning to Mike, I asked, "How do they do that? Upwards of twenty thousand people come together, most of whom would be horrified at the thought of entering a church. And these guys have us all singing with the angels."
Mike replied, "This is their gift. They can plant a prayer in our hearts—in anyone's heart."
I've been an eyewitness to enough medically verified healing miracles and silly shams that I'm neither unbelieving nor gullible. Nor am I obsessed with proving matters of faith, but still...
Hoping for verification, I tracked down my friend Pam,who confirmed that she saw the woman being wheeled in before
the show from the parking lot. She appeared truly chair-bound. Later, Simon, one of Mike's congregants, shared that he was able to meet the woman on the floor after the concert. Sure enough, she was standing without the wheelchair, claiming "It's true. Nobody believes me, but this is real."
Truth or legend? To me, it seems the better question is, "Do I have the capacity to believe that the Christ of the Gospels is the same yesterday, today, and forever? Does he continue to stop midstream, take note of the least, and stretch out his hand to heal? Could he do it through Bono? Would he? Could he do it through me? Would he do it through you?"
This I know, "He came to play Jesus... ", and so he did.
My comment is this....love 'em or hate 'em...As my German friend Martin Franke so well described: At a time when practically all German youth were atheist...totally blown out by their parent's Lutheran and Catholic acquiescence and participation in Hitler's regime...U2 arrive on stage in Berlin and Frankfurt early 80s singing Psalm 40.Because Bono was coming from a background riven by the Protestant Catholic divide in Ireland they could hear he was coming from a real place...and they listened.Contemporary with this was the simply awful BBC Rock Gospel show which was corporate religious nonsense. The celtic bird will simply have no truck with corporate attempts to tie it down. The voice of the Holy Spirit is something the BBC wouldn't even hear if the angels came down again and sung in the night sky.They'd probably bring in Patrick Moore and ask what that strange disturbance was.
Read more on U2
Paul Noble 26 August at 00:14 Facebook
I have to say there were 2 bands on before and the difference between them and U2 was amazing. I am only a recent U2 fan but what I discern is called the annointing and I think its because they honour God's word in their lyrics. I also think that the people out there are looking for something spiritual and can sense that in the music because its honest and gut real. Its not in your face christian but it touches the heart. I have a feeling that even though they have been playing 30 yrs now they are not finished yet and God is working through them to touch a generation.
Bino posted this enlightening Youtube clip: Interview by Larry King of Bono (part of series)

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