February 7, 2014

God’s Counting on You, God’s Counting on Me

A long-time friend reports that comments on her Facebook post following Pete Seeger’s death were a poignant cross-generational tribute to a man who made a difference for all of his 94 years—with the exception of one man who quipped “I got over all that in college.”

I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Got over what? Justice? Peace? Idealism? Working – really working- for love between our brothers and our sisters? No wonder the world is in such a sorry shape!

My friend and I were on the edge between the passivity of the ‘50’s and the activism of the ‘60’s. Young women brought up to wear pearls and say ‘yes ma’m”, we might have made different choices. We met at church, in a prayer group of young married women- most soon to deliver their first children; others busy with toddlers. We wanted more than anything to bring them into a peaceful world. We had experienced desegregation in our high schools, and wanted our kids to grow up in a world free of discrimination. We went to peace rallies; we convinced the kindly sexton at our church to assist us in hanging signs for open housing over the urinals in the men’s rest rooms. We were part of training groups for more honest, loving ways of being in our families and other relationships. We shared a vision for what the church and the world could be at their best.

The “got over it in college” message zinged into my present world – a world in which my call to ministry is about guiding processes in systems in civil dialogue, effective relationships, intentionality in living and working in congruence with core values, respecting the worth and dignity of human beings, stopping violence in all of its forms, from bullying to war - and living out the call to bring God’s Kingdom to earth here and now. Joyfully, it is work shared by many.

This morning there was a YouTube video in my Facebook feed of Pete Seeger singing and leading others in singing “God’s Counting on You, God’s Counting on Me.”

The joy and hope on the faces of men, women and children had nothing to do with age-and everything to do with never giving up on this vision of a just society.

I believe God is counting on you and counting on me to change the world. I defy anyone who believes that call and response to it is something to ‘get over’- at any period of life. I believe we are called to keep singing the songs, walking the walk, gathering others as we go.

Bruce Springsteen is quoted as saying that when he and Pete Seeger were preparing to sing at the Obama inaugural, Bruce asked Pete “what’s the plan?’ “I don’t care,” Pete replied. “I just plan to sing all of the verses.’

Springsteen concluded, “Maybe that’s what made so many people love Pete, and others fear him. He sings all of the verses all of the time, especially the ones we’d like to leave out of our human history.’

May I always remember all the verses – and keep singing, as we answer God’s call.

This post also appeared on the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington's blog roll. It is reprinted with permission.