This Land Is Your Land by Rev. Dr. Jalene Chase
Updated: Mar 28
This Land is Your Land was written by Woody Guthrie, in 1940, while traveling from California to New York. Like last months’ offering, this song is also outside of my usual 1960’s to 1990’s genre. I was in the process of cleaning up my notes for what I was going to submit for this month, when this title dropped in my spirit. The words are catchy and appropriated during a time of division and unrest in our country. The chorus is,
“This land is your land; this land is my land. From California to the New York Island. From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters. This land was made for you and me.”
This song was originally called “God Bless America For Me,” written in response to Berlins’ “God Bless America. Guthrie wondered how God could bless a country where people were in need, standing in relief lines, hungry, and out of work. Several sources about Guthrie questioned his supposed ties to the Communist Party. His reported lack of discipline to the demands of the party made that claim inconsistent. One definition of communism is: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available when needed. Which is different than capitalism where currently the two main systems are in conflict, therefore the root of our nation’s problems.
Two verses were excluded when the song was rewritten in 1944. One verse speaks of a “No Trespassing signs” prohibiting free movement. The other verse says, “In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple, near the relief office, I see my people. And some are grumblin’, and some are wonderin’ if this land’s still made for you and me.” To me, it is a call for equity, humanity, unity and for social justice, to address the division and divisiveness in our land.
In my faith tradition there is verse in the Bible that calls us to rebuild what is ruined, raise up foundations, repair the breach and restore the streets we live on. To straighten democracy, we must make a commitment to see each other as good and worthy, like the true God see us. Then together we will pray, “God Bless America, the Land that was Made for You and Me.” If you desire to explore ways to rebuild, raise-up, repair and restore, start with fellowship. Our church has members of the three major political parties, and several cultures. We know that it is possible to work together when we put the welfare of all people over politics. If you feel the same, join us. We meet virtually for worship on Sunday mornings at 10 am Meeting ID: 851 2578 5976 Passcode: 850888 One tap mobile +13017158592, Bible Study on Wednesdays, and Check-in to chat on Thursdays. More information can be found on our webpage www.eumcbeltsville.com or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/EUMCBeltsville/. Until next time: