Immanuel church was contacted a few weeks ago by the touring group Up With People. Doug and I couldn't believe that this ultimate show choir and spreaders of goodwill among humanity were still going strong. They needed some meeting space and we were able to accommodate them. Consequently, we were given tickets to the show, Immanuel was publicly thanked and our name appeared on a 'Thanks To' slide that ran before and after the show. (camera fail or I would've had the thanks slide!) We didn't know what to expect but thought that they would still put on a pretty good show.
Throughout the day, as I was thinking about going to the concert, I found myself muttering the words to the catchy theme song: Up, Up, with People, you meet 'em wherever you go. Then I'd hum because I couldn't remember what lines followed. Whilst waiting for the subway train to take us to the theater, Doug breaks into song and had the entire chorus in his pocket: Up, up with people, you meet 'em wherever you go. Up, up with people, they're the best kind of folks we know. If more people, were for people, all people everywhere. There'd be a lot less people to worry about and a lot more people who care. His little history of being in show choirs really does pop up now and again! So with the theme song in our hearts, we were ready to join the fun.
I have say...it was quite the uplifting and joy-filled experience! Over 120 kids, from 21 different countries, singing, dancing and spreading a message of peace and harmony. That is not the worst way for young people to spend their days! The stage was simple but they used lighting and the large screen quite effectively. At the beginning of the show, they kids were grouped in their countries and they did a cute introduction of each land. Then they introduced the theme, A Song for the World. They took us through the world via music and we were smiling throughout. The nod to Americana was quite fun with a good 'ol country hoe down and some square dancing thrown in.
Of course, how could you be in Sweden and not feature a song by ABBA?! The finale was great with many of the performers coming out on stage in their national dress. The message of Up With People remains the same...promote peace, harmony and understanding between people groups and do so with song and dance. It was pretty great to think about this amazing experience that these young people are having as they travel with Up With People. Immanuel is proud to have a small role in supporting them.
At the end of the show, they offer the opportunity for kids to come and speak with them about joining the fun in the future. Their tag line was Travel, Perform, Inspire. I thought it was fresh and fun.
I was thinking about our church throughout, about how privileged I've been to be a part of multi-cultural congregation and just how enriching that experience is. I also realized that when we have our own fellowship nights, where we lift up food, music, dance, dress and customs from each group, everyone just loves it. I believe that if we do expose ourselves to those who are different than we, then we will learn something, we will increase our understanding and a more peaceful society will emerge. I think by nature we are curious people and if we can break through the barriers that prevent us from entering another's world, then our lives will be greatly enriched. If you ever happen to meet someone who toured with Up With People, I am sure they would say that it remains one of the most treasured experiences in their life. If you get a chance to see a show, go. It's good fun...like show choir on speed! And sing along when they bust out their theme song. You know you know it...it lurks in the back of minds everywhere.