The hippies who didn’t burn out

Peace Signs

So, if you didn’t live through them yourself, you’ve certainly heard about them: the hallowed sixties. The glory days of hippiedom.

I recently preached a sermon in which I said, “Now, I wasn’t alive in the sixties…” and about a quarter of the congregation gasped. I thought the sanctuary was going to implode.

One particularly wonderful character in our congregation came up to me after the service, with a huge, concerned look on her face, “You weren’t alive in the sixties?” It was clear she didn’t hear the rest of the sermon. She never got past that line.

“Nope,” I shook my head.

“How can that be?” She looked utterly, completely confused.

“Well, I was born in the seventies,” I clarified, respectfully, but talking a little slower.

She stood frozen, until her husband finally ushered her out of the pastor’s press-the-flesh line. Taking her elbow, he gently led her to coffee hour, continuing to explain it to her stunned expression, “It is possible, you know. Babies were still being born after 1969….”

On Monday morning, I walked into the HOS’s office and told him what happened, expecting him to start laughing as hard as I had been for the previous 24 hours. Instead, the same dazed expression grew on his face, “Yeah. I had a hard time with that one too. You weren’t alive in the 60s?”

What is up with these hippies?

Actually, I must say that working at Western has given me a whole new perspective on the flower children. Whether we’re looking at the record of the current administration or the sage financial advice of Dennis Hopper, it’s really hard for subsequent generations to understand what happened to the civil rights spirit of the 60s generation. But, I’m happy to say that I found some hippies who didn’t burn out.

We have a relatively small church of 270 members, but that hasn’t stopped them from doing some really big things in D.C and around the world. They helped to start Miriam’s Kitchen, a feeding and social services program in our church. The kitchen’s grown and now we serve over 200 clients a hot, nutritional breakfast every weekday morning. We began Project Create, a program to teach art to children living in poverty. Presently, we’re building a health clinic in Ethiopia.

And, it’s not just a Boomer congregation. The church has even opened its doors to people who weren’t alive in the sixties. They have allowed for the leadership, vision, and activism of a new generation. They supported and welcomed the initiatives of new generations to welcome LGBTQ members and preserve the environment by running solely on renewable energies. And, the church pews are filling up with people under the age of forty-five. Thanks to those Boomers, now we’re an intergenerational community that strives for peace and social justice in our city and in our world.

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One thought on “The hippies who didn’t burn out

  1. I’m glad that at least some of them didn’t merely watch the “revolution” on television. Some have been the most inspiring and wise leaders our country and world will ever know. It is a bit annoying listening to them list all their accomplishments. They rebelled against the institution that they took over and nothing to come will ever be quite as sweet. This world that they changed still looks like it has a load of problems.

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