Singing the World into Wellbeing (8/28/16)

This summer, we’ve been exploring what it means to act the world into wellbeing.  As I contemplated how to engage that theme on this last Sunday in August—which has become a singing service—I thought about Pete Seeger.  Pete believed—really believed—that the world would change if we could just sing together.  At Pete’s concerts, more of the singing was done by attendees than by him.

Desmond Tutu At Columbia University

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 20: Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger encourages the crowd to sing at Teachers College, Columbia University commencement convocation May 20, 2003 at St. John’s the Divine church in New York. Singer and two other men were given awards and honorary degrees during the ceremony. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)


Something happens when we sing together, doesn’t it?  In a seminar I took at Emory with Don Saliers, Emily’s dad, the worship and theology professor, bemoaned the fact that concert-goers’ responses to Indigo Girls concerts were much more impassioned than the responses of worshipers to liturgy he created.  For those of you who are into the Indigo Girls, singing “The Power of Two” with a couple thousand other people—it kind of is a holy experience, isn’t it?




As I thought about singing the world into wellbeing, I began to wonder:  How does music inspire us to live God’s love in the world?  What songs inspire us to act the world into wellbeing?  I heard back from a few of you.  Today’s service includes at least one suggestion from everyone who made submissions.


A few thoughts about how to get the most from today’s service.


So often when we think of music, we think, either:  I like that, or, I don’t like that.  With today’s music, we know that every one of these songs was chosen because it’s vitally important to a member of this community.  Each of the songs we’ll sing or hear today inspires someone to live God’s love in the world, to act others into wellbeing.  (Below, you’ll find the stories of why folks chose the songs they did.)


So….If you know and like a song, sing along!  If you don’t know–or don’t like–a song, do a little research.  Listen to the song generously.  Hear it as the offering it is from one of our fellow community members.  See what it might teach you about your own practices of acting the world into wellbeing.


And if in the midst of our singing together this morning you find yourself thinking, “Man.  I wish I’d contributed a song or two,” room is provided on the insert for you to begin creating your own playlist.


In fact, you might like to create an actual playlist…on Youtube, or Spotify, or your iPod, or your Hi Fi, or your Victrola…Create a playlist that will inspire you to act the world into wellbeing.


With that, let us now sing the world into wellbeing.


Stories about why each song was chosen:


GOSPEL MUSIC;  NEGRO SPIRITUALS.   I love this music! The tempo, the words, the rhythm. I feel like the Holy Spirit is running through me! My heart pounds , I wanna move, get down and get jiggly with praising the Lord ! Act the world into loving Jesus?  Amen . This music can do it!  (June)



Simple lyrics that we all need to hear again and again.  In this crazy busy, violent and harsh world, we need to listen to this song.  Really listen.  Great thoughts for this world and for individuals to remember that even a small gesture of kindness can make a huge impact on someone.  And then that someone can pass it on.  Words to live by, be humble, be kind, go to church, visit your grandpa, say please and thank you. All simple things, but much needed in these times.  (June)


IMAGINE  (The Beatles)  I loved them all and all their music! As a teenager, I had posters all over my bedroom walls and all their records, yes records!  Later, in College, I was a hippie, a flower child with jeans, gauze tops, sandals and flowers in my hair protesting the war.  “Make love not war” was the bumper sticker on my VW.  I was all about love, harmony and peace.  This song just got into my head and into my soul.  It moved me then and I cry when I hear it today.   (June)


MAN IN THE MIRROR (Michael Jackson)

I’ll start by saying this song gives me chills and the end makes me cry (no surprise there).  This is one of those songs that has a singable tune, relatable lyrics and a personal message for each of us. This song says it all.  Like putting your oxygen mask on in the plane before you ever try to help someone else.

It all starts with each individual person and their own internal search for what moves them in the world.  Your passion may not be the same as my passion, but that’s great!  That’s how all causes get attention, from people who care about them. We should never belittle someone’s belief in a charity, a cause or a political stance, because we haven’t walked in their shoes to be able to understand their point of view, which is as valid for them as our own are for us. “That’s why I’m starting with me!” is a line from the song, and the place where we should all start.  Explore yourself, implore God for guidance, and you will know when you are doing the right things for yourself and the world!  (Carol)


ORDINARY LOVE  (U2)  My songs are about peace and hope. “Ordinary Love” by U2, tells me how simple it is to love one another.  (Noel)


ONE DAY  (Matisyahu) tells me that most of us want peace and hope that one day, that will be possible. Sadly, reality and history tell us that will never really happen, but if people keep writing songs of hope, living a life of love and giving to mankind, the example will be set for future generations. Our actions speak loudly against hate. I do my little part when and where I can, be it hosting charity events, giving to Missions, helping a friend or neighbor in need, it’s something we all can, and should do.  (Noel)


PATRIOTIC MUSIC    I am so grateful to the Almighty God that I was born in this country instead of a third world or Middle East country that is ravaged with war, poverty, disease and hopelessness. Hearing a patriotic song makes me feel safe and warm. My Dad WWll veteran and my Gramps WWl veteran flew their flags 365 days a year. They were proud, they were brave and they loved this country. Hearing a patriotic song makes me think of what men and women have given for us to be free.  (June)


RING THEM BELLS  (Bob Dylan)  Several years ago, my son gave me a four disc collection of Dylan songs, performed by various artists, with an Amnesty International label on it. This song is meaningful to me because, shortly after the Orlando tragedy in June, my son, who also inspires me, put up a Facebook post with the song, “Ring Them Bells”. I just happened to be listening to that CD in my car during that same time frame.

The recording artist on this particular CD is Natasha Bedingfield. The song suggests ringing bells “for the child who cries” and “when the innocents die”.  It also states to ring the bells “from the sanctuaries, from the valleys and streams”.  Several more references include ringing bells “for the poor man’s son, “for the blind and the deaf” and “for all of those who are led”. All of these references speak to acting the world into wellbeing.  (Diane)


SKIN (Sixx A.M.)  When my daughter was having a very hard time with anxiety, serious mental health side effects from ADHD medication, and problems with kids at school, this song really spoke to her.  She made me play it every day for quite a while and we would sing it together.  When you listen to the lyrics of the song, the message it gets across is that you are more than what people see, you are more than just your skin, you are more than just your scars.  Show your heart and people will see…You are wonderful and beautiful.

If you are unfamiliar with the band, it is composed of three musicians, James Michael, DJ Ashba, and Nikki Sixx. Nikki Sixx (as some of you probably already know), is also the bassist for Motley Crue. He was a terrible heroin addict (he seriously overdosed twice and technically died from one of the overdoses for a few minutes and they got his heart beating again). He has been clean and sober for 15 years, and is a very vocal proponent of the sober life and very supportive of folks fighting addition and mental illness battles. So, this song would have ties to acting both mentally ill folks and folks suffering addiction into wellbeing.   (Trudy and Emily)

WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE  (John Mayer)  The lyrics of this song say that the younger generation is waiting on the world to change, and it’s hard to make a difference, about their feelings that the older generation doesn’t think their ideas are worth much.  To me it’s more of a wake-up call to get out there and do something. He covers a lot of topics like war deaths, the powerless feeling of the young to fight the establishment (sort of the opposite of how the younger people felt in the 60’s and early 70’s), the spin the news outlets make on current events, etc. To me it says, listen to what the young people are saying – they have ideas that ARE worth hearing! (Carol)


WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD (Bob Thiele and George David Weiss)

I had only been a pastor 3 months when September 11th happened.  New to ministry, I called a couple of colleagues to ask what they would do in worship the following Sunday.  Neither of the folks I asked was currently in a pastorate.  Both said:  “I’m glad I’m not preaching this Sunday.”  I knew I was on my own.       The Monday following that Sunday (9/17), I saw in the paper that at Sabbath services that week somewhere in New York, a rabbi led his congregation in singing “What a Wonderful World.”  My first thought was, What was he thinking?!  After what has just happened, how can he possibly sing “What a Wonderful World?”  Then I got it.  It is a wonderful world.  Terrible, traumatic things happen sometimes, but if the world is to be a place worth living, we have to believe in its goodness.

Even to ask the question of how we might act the world into wellbeing is to assume that it isn’t yet well, it isn’t yet whole.  As we continue to seek ways to act the world into wellbeing, we might do well to remember what that rabbi remembered:  that the world—as it is—already is wonderful.  (Kim)


WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE (Burt Bacharach & Hal David)

This song came to mind because we truly do need more love in the world. If we show others kindness and reach out to others, one would think it would bring good to the world and act the world into wellbeing.

When I was in high school, I remember leaders from various schools playing a recording of this song for a “Human Relations” group.    (Reese)

About reallifepastor

I'm a pastor who's working out her faith...just like everyone else.
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