CCD Spotlight Blog

Music by James Brown: One Nation

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Living in America

Eye to eye, station to station

Living in America

Hand to hand, across the nation

Living in America

Got to have a celebration

The chorus of James Brown mega hit, “Living in America”, gives us a hopeful vision of America. And even though James Brown is an unlikely spokesperson, his family’s roots in the black church and the rural south give him a unique perspective. Summer is a time to consider such ideals as we move forward. Let us join together to celebrate the announcement that slavery had ended by executive decree on June 19th as Juneteenth is a festival for freedom. July the Fourth for these United States is a milestone of Independence for all of us, “One nation…not many nations.”

But “Living in America” is also a plea to look at ways in which we can find common ground in our diverse populations in North America. Through the lens of our faith, the call to be a witness to the many nations found in Pentecost also reminds us of our challenge to be a present day witness to the many nationalities in our communities. Within walking distance in my community, I see people who come from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Our national promise is to embrace all within our nation.

The great truth of America has been for us as a nation is to be a people where no one’s creed or religious perspective is normative for the whole. And the issue of diversity from a cultural and national perspective is an ideal that we strive for even in the face of major obstacles. But we have a long way to go…

For me as a person of faith, my faith allows me to see our ultimate “citizenship” as part of the Kingdom of God. And through my glass half full, I see our diversity as a means of celebration, as we strive to find common ground in these days of uncertainty. So regardless of what nation or people group we are part of in our communities, there is desire to seek peace, to love others as neighbors, to meet people half way when we disagree, and finally in the spirit of the Prince of Peace, to find God’s perfect Shalom in all areas of life.

So, during the summer months in 2023, the chorus of James Brown’s song and maybe some of the lyrics might help us to see others in a new light. It might even help us to “get on up” and dance with others when the groove is right and the mood and music is thumpin’! And just maybe this dance will be an empowering moment when we can affirm the great truths of our inception as a blessed people of these United States.

You may not be lookin’ for the promised land

But you might find it anyway

Under one of those old familiar names

Like New Orleans (New Orleans), Detroit City (Detroit City)

Dallas, uh (Dallas), Pittsburgh, PA, (Pittsburgh, PA)

New York City (New York City), Kansas City (Kansas City)

Atlanta, woo (Atlanta), Chicago and L.A.

Mr. James Brown – The Godfather of Soul

About the author

The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grand-kids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.

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