Take One: Early on July 4, 1976, people began gathering on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.: A choir of children and teenagers from a Black church. Fiddlers and guitarists wearing knitted yarmulkes. Several dozen sleepy-eyed women and men debarking from a batch of battered trucks, lightweight camping packs upon their backs. An old man in a long white robe, carrying a curved and convoluted ram's horn almost as tall as he was. A band of women setting up the sound equipment for a public address system. Other women putting up an array of glowing banners.
One of the banners read, "Proclaim Jubilee Throughout the Land."
As the number of people grew to about 5,000, the man with the ram's horn climbed to the top of the Memorial stairs. He raised the horn and blew a long and eerie blast. Someone else read from Leviticus:
"You shall count off seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years. ... Then you shall make proclamation with the blast of the horn.... On the day of atonement you shall make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. And you shall make holy the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof.
"It shall be a jubilee to you, and you, every one of you, shall return to his own ancestral holding, everyone of you, to his family.... You shall not sow, nor reap what grows, nor gather the grapes of the unpruned vines. ... And the land shall not be permanently sold --
"For the land is Mine. You are strangers and visitors with Me."
The energy intensified. People sang. People pledged themselves to work toward sharing wealth and power in America. People spoke with passion about money and justice: a Black woman from Chicago, a rabbi from the Maryland suburbs, an Episcopalian woman who had just been ordained a priest of her Church. The Bible spoke, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and before each passage was heard the voice of the ram's horn. Even the dead spoke: from audiotapes came Phil Ochs, singing about the bells of freedom, and Martin Luther King, Jr., dreaming aloud so that we would awaken. The ram's horn spoke again, and this time a liberty bell rang out with it. The 5,000 moved into a procession, heading for Independence Mall to be joined by thousands more. The mood shifted from service and celebration, to rally and reexamination.
"Liturgy" means "the people's work." That American liturgy for the Bicentennial Fourth of July at Mr. Jefferson's memorial, had actually begun half a world away, in the Land of Israel. Begun there twice, once in its deepest origin in the Bible days 4,000 years ago, which inscribed the line from Leviticus on the Liberty Bell; and again just a year before the liturgy itself.