One Fine Day: Moses, David Byrne, and the People of God
Friday, May 15, 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Emerge: A people.
Deuteronomy 29: 2-6; 10-15
2 Moses summoned all Israel, saying to them: You’ve seen with your own eyes everything the Lord did in Egypt, to Pharaoh, his servants, and all his land— 3 the great trials your eyes witnessed, those awesome signs and wonders! 4 But until this very moment, the Lord hasn’t given you insight to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear. 5 I’ve led you in the wilderness forty years now; neither the clothes on your back nor the sandals on your feet have worn out. 6 Neither have you eaten bread nor drunk wine or beer during this time—so that you would know that I am the Lord your God. 10 Right now, all of you are in the presence of the Lord your God—the leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officials, all the Israelite males, 11 your children, your wives, and the immigrants who live with you in your camp, the ones who chop your wood and those who draw your water— 12 ready to enter into the Lord your God’s covenant and into the agreement that the Lord your God is making with you right now. 13 That means the Lord will make you his own people right now—he will be your God just as he promised you and just as he swore to our ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14 But I’m not making this covenant and this agreement with you alone 15 but also with those standing here with us right now before the Lord our God, and also with those who aren’t here with us right now.
Moses is talking to us today – as if the thousands of years between us are but a curtain he’s pushed aside to speak to us, this one fine day. Moses gathers the people of God, emerging from their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and Moses summons also the people of God today, emerging from our wildernesses. We are with Moses on the cusp of the Promised Land. There is a vast multitude gathered among us to hear from Moses, the prophet of God, God’s agent of liberation and hope. The message from God is not just for the leaders and elders and officials, it’s for all people of all status: the immigrants who are not born of Abraham and Sarah’s lineage, the servants who carry water and chop wood, for children, women and men, and, “also those who aren’t here with us right now,” those who have gone on before and those yet to come.
As we soon emerge from our collective and unique wildernesses, we also emerge a people of a promise, a promise that has two sides: our side and God’s side. The emergence of a people is not the emergence of yet another tribe, brand, sect, party, but of a diverse, global people, united by a promise.
As Moses and God renew their covenant, the agreement of their promises of devotion, we too shall recommit to the covenant, remembering how far God has already brought us, “the great trials your eyes witnessed and those awesome signs and wonders.” Maybe it didn’t make since to us then, and maybe not even now, but, “One fine day,” when we see God face to face, we will know that all along we have been in the very presence of God, for that is what God promised. God tells us, “This commandment that I’m giving you right now is definitely not too difficult for you. It isn’t unreachable. 12 It isn’t up in heaven somewhere so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it across the ocean somewhere so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the ocean for us and get it for us that we can hear it and do it?’ 14 Not at all! The word is very close to you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart, waiting for you to do it.” (Deut. 30: 11-14)
And that commandment, beloved, that which God is waiting for us to do, is to simply belong to God with all our heart and all our being. This is it: to emerge as a people who love being God’s people.
Last fall, the musician David Byrne and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus recorded his song, “One Fine Day,” and it feels like a hymn for this day. Byrne shares a hopeful vision of what is to come, after considering all we have been through.
“Saw the wanderin’ eye, inside my heart,” he sings, “I can see those tears, everyone is true / When the door appears, I’ll go right through.” As if standing with the people of God leaving the wilderness, Byrne acknowledges the tears of this life, the truth of this life, but when the door to the new life emerging around us appears, he’s ready to walk through.
He looks back saying, “like everyone / I built my life with rhymes, to carry on / And it gives me hope, to see you there / The things I used to know, that one fine day.” On the day of the Lord, we too see that God was there all along, in all the rhymes, the patterns, of our life, and we find hope for our future when we see how God has been faithful to God’s promise to be with us.
Much like Ecclesiastes, Byrne takes comfort in the paradox that “even though a man is made of clay, everything can change- that one fine day.” When appears before our eyes, beyond the wilderness, that which God has promised: “Then before my eyes, is standing still / I beheld it there, a city on a hill / I complete my tasks, one by one / I remove my masks, when I am done”
Wandering, wondering, day after day of wilderness, we too wear various masks metaphorically and now also literally as we face a world of only eye. Our masks are the many varied ways we want to the world to see us as we go about our work under the sun. But God who sees us as we truly are under all our masks and loves us, appears to us and invites us to rest, to remove our masks, to see the kingdom of God, not beyond us in heaven, not across some sea, but near to us, as near to us as our very breath. God welcomes us as a people into the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, in, around, and among us now, just as God promised. That one fine day is not so far off, but it is here now, emerging all around us, if we can perceive it.
Finally, Byrne concludes: “Then a piece of mind, fell over me / In these troubled times, I still can see / We can use the stars, to guide the way / It is not that far, the one fine day.
Let us Pray:
Satisfy us with your love in the morning,
and we will live this day in joy and praise.
we praise you for your mighty love given in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross,
and the new life we have received by his resurrection.
Especially we thank you for
ministries of teaching and pastoral care . . . those who work to help and heal . . . sacrifices others have made for our benefit . . . opportunities for our generous giving . . .
the presence of Christ in our weakness and suffering . . .
People of God, for what else do we give thanks? Add your own prayers of thanksgiving.
God of grace,
let our concern for others reflect Christ’s self-giving love, not only in our prayers, but also in our practice.
Especially we pray for
the church in Latin America . . .
a right relationship between humans and the earth . . . those who are wounded or face death . . .
those who keep watch over the sick and dying . . .
all who speak up and take action for what is right . . .
And for the family of Joan Harris, Dick Shepley and his family, Mary, Sharon and Tom Herrold, Duana, Larry, Jennifer Watkins, Brenda and Cliff, Bob, Rochelle, Karen and Steve, Barb and Butch, Sharron Blezard, Marcia, Rose, Phil and Alice, Stanley Hope, Jake, John, Julie, the nurses of our Medical Outreach Clinic and…
People of God, for what else do we pray? Add your own prayers.
Almighty God, you have made us in your image and crowned us with honor and glory.
Shape us by your Word and fill us with your Spirit so that we may live as your beloved children
and proclaim your saving love to our life’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God the Father, ☩ Son, and Holy Spirit watch over us. Amen.