this is my fifth summer cd in a row, and you can see the artwork for it above. the theme is the word "world," as you can see from the songs i chose (also, please remember that my target audience here is the family demographic). here are the "liner notes" i included with the cd:
“the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world, and all who dwell in it.” – Psalm 24:1
this year, for our annual summer cd, we let “what a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong be our inspiration, for thinking about how it truly is an incredible world. as followers of Jesus, we don’t just admire the world in its awesomeness, or grieve for it in its brokenness, but do all of those things (and more) in the context of remembering that it is God’s handiwork: the project of a creative God who, when it was made, according to the hebrew story, not only called it good, but called it “very good” (the hebrew there, tov me’od, carries the sense of being exceedingly good).
God made something good. we call it the world.
so this year we celebrate that creation, in all its breathtaking bliss and beautiful brokenness. here are the songs, and a few thoughts:
1. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons: just a great way to kick off with some high energy. Sometimes you feel like you’re on top of the world, sometimes you don’t. this one is for those times when you do.
2. Top of the World – Anthem Lights: “living this life in color, saying bye to black and white,” is one of the lyrics in this pop anthem, reminding us that God’s creation is diverse and wild and colorful and beyond the scope of our perception and understanding. We live always in the midst of a spectrum which can be frightening if we allow ourselves to live in that fear. Or, if we remember the constant admonition of Scripture, saying, “do not be afraid,” we can learn to embrace the wonder of difference, and the many facets of God’s fingerprints pressed into this remarkable world in full color.
3. Top of the World – The Carpenters: a love song. About how we feel when we are in love. Certainly this can be true between two people, or even between us and God. Everyone should have moments when they are blessed enough to feel this way.
4. Let the Good Times Roll – Ben Rector: can you, every once in a while, just let go of the anxiety and fear you are holding on to, put them in the cabinet, close the door, and let your feet lead you in some sort of ridiculous dance? If you can, this song might be the soundtrack for it. Try it. See what happens.
5. Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly) – Dinah Shore: a really old folk song, dating back at least to the 1600’s in England. Just a dilly little song. I mean silly.
6. The World is Ours – David Correy (feat. Aloe Blacc): the chorus of this song (the world is ours!) may seem to contradict the words of Psalm 24:1 (the earth is the Lord’s), and yet there is this very real sense that God has entrusted this great green-blue globe to our care, to steward and shepherd. We ought to celebrate it, care for it, and love it as God’s creation.
7. Who Put the Bomp – Barry Mann: c’mon, just try not to smile.
8. Us Against the World – Coldplay: when you feel like the world is more adversary than ally, slow it down. Hold on. Remember that even as the chaos swirls, that the Spirit hovers over the water.
9. It’s Such a Good Feeling – Mister Rogers: it’s been the year of Mister Rogers for me! Just finished a sermon series about him, and the movie about his life starring tom hanks is scheduled to come out later this year. It truly is SO GOOD to know you are alive.
10. Father’s World – Gungor: this is, as Psalm 24 tells us, God’s world. This song, written sometime before 1901, celebrates the wonders of God’s creation, but here in Gungor’s version, also calls us to be good stewards of what God has made.
11. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong: the inspiration for this whole thing. Just listen to that voice and try not to think about how awesome this world is. I dare you.
12. The World You Want – Switchfoot: this song points to the truth that we are co-creators with God. Since we are made in God’s image, and God is a creator, we also bear that image. And, as Jon Foreman sings so powerfully, we are making this world every day. Is this the world we want? As I watch the news and get terrible notifications on my phone about tragedies around the world, amber alerts, and school shootings, I can’t help but answer with a resounding “no!” But that’s not enough. How will I also use every day I am alive to change the world?
13. Love (Makes the World go Around) – Paul Anka: enjoy the tour. And, remember that wherever people are from, they are people, bearing the image of God.
14. High Hopes – Panic! At the Disco: need a pick-me-up? This song should do the trick. Hold on to your hope. Don’t give up.
15. You – A Great Big World: oh my goodness, how the world can change when we finally surrender our selfishness enough to see that “there is you.” Whether that “you” is a partner, a child, God, or a neighbor (as Mister Rogers taught us!), the “other” makes us more alive, more fully ourselves, and more likely to see more of the fullness of God’s glory. When I hear this beautiful and somewhat melancholy melody, I try to think about all the “you’s” in my life, and the ones I haven’t yet met.
16. On the Way – Marc Scibilia: adventure awaits! Let your summer guide you on the way!
17. Cover the Earth – Daniella Mason: can you feel it now? Let it cover you. The Spirit is rising up, breaking down walls of separation, beating down doors that have been locked to our neighbors, and crashing through windows that we think protect us from the other. This world is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, right? Yes! So the Spirit is moving in the midst of all of it. Bricks won’t hold it in. Fear won’t hold it in. Love will let it out.
18. High on Life – Martin Garrix (feat. Bonn): “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly,” said Jesus. When people sing about being “high on life,” I think they are trying to get at this abundant life that Jesus was talking about. Too often, those of us who follow Jesus are anything but high on life, or living abundantly. We have forgotten the joy of our salvation, the hope of our faith, and have replaced it with moral shame-mongering, which leads to long faces, and a kind of living that isn’t marked by abundance, but by listening to the voice of the Imposter telling us that we aren’t good enough, aren’t lovable enough, aren’t WHATEVER enough. But Jesus says something different. In his limitless love and mercy he speaks compassionately to us: I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.
19. All Over the World – Nat King Cole: Love was and love is, and always will be all over the world. Love is everywhere. Love is the movement. God is love.
20. Freedom (Galatians 5:1) – Randall Goodgame: this song is awesome. It speaks, in its own way, about that abundant life Jesus was talking about in John 10. We are not held captive to that which has bound us. We have been set free for freedom by Jesus. Don’t go back to the chains and burdens of slavery.
21. I’ve God the World on a String – Michael Buble: that voice, though.
22. Head Held High – Kodaline: well, if you’re having a season when you don’t feel like you’ve got the world on a string, but more like it’s got you on a string, then hold your head up high. There is a light to guide your way.
23. Stop the World – Wakey Wakey: remember to spend time with those you love. The world feels like it’s spinning out of control. But a quick game of go-fish, or a walk in the park, or a simple conversation over the dinner table about your best and worst parts of the day, might just be a way to “stop the world and dance.”
24. Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: as you hear this man’s gentle voice and the soft strum of the ukulele, may you sing this, “…and I say to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Enjoy, friends. Have a great summer. Remember the One who created it all, and calls you to be fully and abundantly alive in it….