Wednesday, 27 May 2009

and then you - walter brueggemann

We arrange our lives as best we can,

to keep your holiness at bay,

with our pieties,

our doctrines,

our liturgies,

our moralities,

our secret ideologies,

Safe, virtuous, settled.

And then you –

you and your dreams,

you and your visions,

you and your purposes,

you and your commands,

you and our neighbours.

We find your holiness not at bay,

but probing, pervading,

insisting, demanding.

And we yield, sometimes gladly,

sometimes resentfully,

sometimes late…or soon.

We yield because you, beyond us, are our God.

We are your creatures met by your holiness,

by your holiness made our true selves.

And we yield. Amen.

This is the first of a collection of prayers by Walter Brueggemann from a book called Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth. What is so remarkable about these prayers is that they were uttered by Brueggemann before his seminary class; the lecturer humbly committing himself and his students to God.

Edwin Searcy the editor of Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth makes the following comment:
'The care that Brueggemann gives to his prayers testifies to the crucial importance that he places on the living covenantal conversation. For him biblical texts offer the mother tongue of the divine-human conversation. In his prayers for class and for worship, Brueggemann speaks his mother tongue of praise and confession, lament and gratitude, despair and faithfulness. Listening to his practiced voice we rediscover ancient ways of speaking honestly before God.'

Bruggemann, reflecting on a life spent in teaching, identifies something crucial that those of us who are involved in theological education and training for ministry constantly need to remember:
'The church at prayer is the only adequate matrix for theological education.'

And Then You
is a prayer that I read again today and it spoke to the frustration I feel about so many of the debates and arguments, controversies and petty squabbles that we get caught up in as the church. God calls us to yield before him in awe and reverence, humbled by his holiness and grace.

3 comments:

Tim Goodbody said...

What would Brueggemann's version of "You're not singing any more" be? ;-)

Philip Ritchie said...

Tim,
I think the equivalent of 'you're not singing any more' would be Psalm 35:
15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like godless jesters at a feast,
They gnashed at me with their teeth.
17 Lord, how long will You look on?
Rescue my soul from their ravages,
My only life from the lions.
18 I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.
19 Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.
20 For they do not speak peace,
But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.
21 They opened their mouth wide against me;
They said, “Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it!”

And for us Man Utd fans it would have to be Psalm 137:
1 By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
2 Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
3 For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
4 How can we sing the LORD’S song
In a foreign land?

Anyway, pleased the team accepted defeat with good grace and congratulations to Barca for a magnificent season.

paul said...

Inspirational and moving stuff...