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Have you ever seen a flashmob?
“Flashmob” is the name we give to those apparently spontaneous incidents where ordinary people in a public place begin to sing, dance, or perform in a coordinated and totally unexpected way. Like for example when unsuspecting people in a shopping mall's food court were treated to a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.
Other Flashmob events have taken place in railroad stations, airports and public parks.
After the initial surprise, most people seem to react very positively. Many actually join in the singing and the dancing.
These Flashmob events may seem spontaneous, but they must surely be the result of much planning. It takes coordination to get the right people in the right place at the right time. So although it seems casual and unrehearsed, the main participants are often professionals, used to working together.
But it isn’t the quality of the performance that is the special attraction of a Flashmob event. It is the totally unexpected nature of what happens, taking the audience completely by surprise. It is this element of surprise, and the fact that it happens in ordinary places that makes them so effective.
To be a genuine Flashmob, the event must have no commercial or political agenda. In fact, the only purpose must be to entertain and make those who watch feel better for a while. That is why they can be so effective in reminding us that there is more to life than the humdrum daily routines of making a living in a dog-eat-dog world. If a Flashmob is done well, it can be inspiring, and lift the mood and the spirits of those watching. It is like a sudden shaft of sunlight on a dark and gloomy day.
Jesus understood the idea of Flashmob. He knew people needed encouragement. He would use routine situations and ordinary places to do something or say something that left people feeling better about life. He used every opportunity to encourage the downhearted, and to give hope to people whose lives had become bowed down with the cares of the world. He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
He told his disciples, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
He was remembered as a person who “went around doing good,” Acts 10:38 tells us.
And this is what he asks of those who follow him today. Whether working together or as individuals, Jesus told us to be like lights shining in a dark world. The gospel means “good news.” If we believe it and live by it, it should also be good news to those around us too.
Life is a struggle for most people. Just as in Jesus’ time, so many of us are “weary and burdened.” That’s why genuine acts of kindness, generosity and unselfishness do tend to take us by surprise. And like a well-coordinated Flashmob performance, such acts of thoughtfulness can lift the spirits and show that there is more to life than our immediate troubles.
You don’t need a whole team of people. You don’t need a special place. You don’t need hours of planning and coordination. Christ is in us and we are in Christ. That means that every day presents opportunities, wherever we are, whoever we’re with, to make our little part of the world a happier and brighter place.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.