What if church were more like this?

I attended Ozomatli’s concert at House of Blues on Friday night.  These guys are amazing, playing songs full of life and energy and love with an awareness of the need to struggle against injustice.  I’m a huge fan.

What struck me was the way the show felt like church, at least the way I long for church to be.  (This is what some of my hardcore U2 fanatic friends say about their concerts.)  The band was glad to be there and clearly enjoyed playing and interacting with the crowd.  They also clearly enjoyed each other and encouraged each other.  At one point they even told us to stop and introduce ourselves to the people around us we didn’t know, “just like church,” they said.  They loved the audience and encouraged us to sing and dance and respond to them.

The clincher was when at the end of the show, after they’d had us chanting “Ozomatli ya se fue” (roughly “Ozomatli’s left the house”), the three percussionists each took a drum and, without missing a beat, jumped down into the crowd, followed by the rest of the band.  They wound around and through the crowd, up through the bar and out of sight, where we could still hear the drums for a long time afterwards.

Isn’t church, at least sometimes, supposed to be like this?  Led by people who love what they’re doing and who care about the others who lead with them?  Something that we do together with joy?  Aren’t we supposed to take the good news we hear, the Word we’ve eaten and take them out into the world?  As a colleague commented, “What would an Easter Vigil like this be like?  Wow.”

It’s not about having an 8-piece latin/hip hop band up behind the altar, nor is it about make church more entertaining (although not boring is a good idea).  It’s about whether we think what we do in our worship matters, whether we are attentive to God’s presence in us and those with whom we worship, whether we’re clear that we who lead worship are offering part of ourselves, not as an ego trip, but as an invitation to the congregation to do the same out in the “real” world.

Check out “Can’t Stop” on their jukebox:

You can’t stop, this love
Can’t stop now, got to keep moving
We’ve got faith in what love can do
Don’t look back we’re gonna make it through
Can’t stop now, got to keep moving
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