The Last Words of David

I’m sitting in safe, dry, beautiful Rochester, New York this morning as millions of my countrymen (and women) are fleeing for their lives from Hurricane Irma. It hardly seems possible that we are in the same country when our situations are so vastly different. Watching the slow-moving (12 mph) storm that is wider than the state of Florida and is about the size of TEXAS is surreal to me. How do I comprehend this? How can I support my friends who live there and are coping with it even as I write this?

My sponsor teacher when I student taught about 150 years ago was Irma Donaloio. One gift of this hurricane, I guess, is that I haven’t thought of her in years … yet she is with me almost daily in how I live my life and do my ministry. (A small gift from just a tragic hurricane.)

As of this writing, the storm has yet to touch land in our country, though plenty of other countries, territories, and villages have been virtually destroyed. The Governor of Florida has referred to this as a “nuclear storm” because of how it will most likely lay waste to his state.

Being a life-long musician, I often find that God speaks to me through musical phrases and snippets and this morning, I kept hearing a phrase from Randall Thompson’s “The Last Words of David” in my ear.  I’m attaching a link in case you’ve never heard it. It takes about 4 minutes for the whole piece, and while it’s not about storms — at least not weather storms — it speaks about the calm after the rain when the world is renewed.

The lyrics are taken from the King James Version of 2 Samuel 23:3-4 when Israel’s great King David (who, as you may remember, was not the most noble and upright man in Scripture — thus proving that God can use each one of us … even those of us with many, many flaws) is dying. It begins with an impressive mass of sound as the choir navigates an octave leap while singing, “He that ruleth over men must be just.”

(Now, just as an aside, I have to share two thoughts about this.  One, of course, is our present leadership in this country and how I would like our President, each member of Congress, all the cabinet members, Joint Chiefs and Supreme Court Justices to study this scripture and listen to this song!  And the other … purely personal … is memories of my  late brother Dave – an over-the-road-retired-U.S. Marine-trucker –  who used to sing this at the top of his lungs, complete with the sforzando on the third “just” because he felt it was all about HIM since he shared the King’s name!!! LOL)

Anyway … it’s the part after the opening .. verse 4 of the scripture that is present with me today:

And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

THAT is what will happen after the chaos and destruction of Hurricane Irma. The seas will subside and dawn will break mid-week. “Even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” But what will we see?

Will we see the tender grass and the beauty of the sunrise?
Or will we see only the destruction, desolation, and loss?
Beauty — as with destruction — is in the eye of the beholder.
What will we choose to look at? What will we choose to focus on?

It’s the old “in the world but not of the world” thing again. The KOG will be around us even in the storm and its aftermath. Will we see it, name it, and claim it? Will we be the presence of Christ in the world throughout these days?  Will people bump up against Jesus by bumping up against us, or will they find so much of the hopelessness and despair that seems to be permeating national and international discussions right now?

Tomorrow I’ll be preaching on Romans 13:11-14 and lifting up

The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! (MSG version)

These next 24 or 36 hours will be a very dark and stormy night, I’m afraid. But the dawn will break.

Some are feeling that this is a very dark and stormy night in our nation’s history, as well. But the dawn will break.

For some, this is a very dark and stormy night in their own lives … their own souls.  But the dawn will break.

And after rain?  After the rain of the dark and stormy night? Well, then it “shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.”

These times require two things of us —

Trusting that the morning will come, and

Taking time to look for “the tender grass springing out of the earth”

because it will be there. “Fear not, for behold, I am with you to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).”

I invite you to take 4 minutes to sit quietly with God while you listen to this exquisite peace sung by our Morman brothers and sisters.

Shalom … Salaam … Peace,
Pastor Deb