chances are you probably know about Improv Everywhere - a performance art group from New York City. They were formed in 2001 by Charlie Todd and their slogan is 'we cause scenes.' Basically, the group carries out harmless pranks or 'missions' as they call them, in public spaces around the city. once missions are developed, they use social media to get the word out - then anyone who wants can participate in the missions. these 'flash mob' scenes are aimed to bring about 'chaos and joy.'
Frozen Grand Central Station is probably IE's most famous (and creative) flash mob gathering.
Improv Everywhere has spawned copycat flash mobs - to the point that the flash mob idea is gaining a cult-like following. Just YouTube "flash mob" and you'll see what i mean.
recently a flash mob video from Macy's department store has gone viral - with over 14 million views on YouTube in just over 3 weeks. This Christmas Food Court Flash Mob consists of shoppers standing up and singing the many parts of Handel's Hallelujah chorus.
What makes Improv Everywhere and other Flash mobs so appealing to people? I think it has to do with the idea that people want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. these friendly mobs are a picture of true community at its best. strangers coming together to bring goodness, delight and joy to the masses. people connected with something in common. people united for simple, some-what child like enjoyment.
mankind was wired for this! to be connected. to be in community with others. God wired us this way because at the core of the human heart is a need to be wanted, appreciated, needed and connected.
this brings me to the Christmas season of which we are now in the midst of. at the heart of the Christmas story are disconnected people being brought together because of the shining light that entered the world, in the form of a humble, innocent baby boy - born in a dirty, smelly stable.
there's an Improv Everywhere mission titled 'Look Up More' in which participants of this flash mob stand in the store front windows of a large, multi-story shopping mall. After doing a series of harmless stunts in unison (jumping jacks, pointing, dancing, etc.) the members in the middle section of windows hold up letters spelling out the phrase: L-O-O-K U-P M-O-R-E, to the amazement of the spectators who have gathered outside, across the street.
a simple reminder to 'look up more.' perhaps a reminder for all humans to look around and see the world - to see it's beauty... to see it's innocence, and to enjoy what God has given us all.
think of the group of shepherds on the hillside of Bethlehem, tending their sheep that special night 2,000 years ago. The looked up to the stars and an angel appeared - to proclaim the good news of a savior's birth. Think of the wise men - who saw the star in the east (Matthew 2:1-2) and followed it to the foot of the Messiah. They 'looked up' and the great light brought them not only together with each other - but together with the new born King of Kings. By looking up, the shepherds and wise men were instantly connected to Jesus.
and so God got there attention - and the attention of others. and so a connection was made. and so Christ-centered community was created.
and so it continues today. the innocence of the birth of our Savior connects us and reminds us that we long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. we long to belong!
Improv Everywhere reminds us... flash mobs remind us... and this Christmas season, may the story of the birth of Jesus remind us: to truly belong - we must look up. see the stars. understand our role in the story. recognize that God is shining down upon us. every night. trying to get our attention.
just like the flash mobs referenced above: may we draw attention to the One greater than us all - who longs for us all to be a part of a his community, filled with grace and hope and love.
forever and ever.