Bible · community

What Would Walter Bruegemann Say (WWWBS)

I’m using a book by Walter Brueggemann for my daily prayers. Gift and Task – It’s based on a year cycle of readings in (I think ?) The Presbyterian Church of America. So each day there’s a Psalm, readings from the Old and New Testament, and a Gospel reading. Walter Brueggemann then has a reflection on one or more of the passages.

When I read a review of the book before I bought it, one of the comments was that it felt like after a while, Brueggemann was repeating himself and going back to the same subjects. Well, having got almost half way through the year, I can say that this is true, but also really helpful. To begin to get a feel for themes that reappear in scripture really gets them into your mind and heart.

Here are a few of the themes that are revisited:
Exclusion v Inclusion
Empire v Commonwealth
Self Confidence v Trust
Scarcity v Abundance
Competition v Cooperation
Individualism v Connectedness
Self v Community
Death v Life
Business as Usual v Transfomation
Knowledge v Wisdom

One simple example was yesterday’s reading from Galatians, where Paul compares acts of the flesh, with life in the Spirit, and draws out the contrast between self and community.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5 verses 19 – 23)

He makes the simple but profound point that the first list is all about the self. “A life that is propelled by self advancement at the expense of others and a passionate will to have one’s own way.” This kind of life is, in the end, destructive of community, and is fostered by the individualsim that is rampant in our world.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit list is all about community, supporting one another through acts of love.

Grace and Peace.

Grace · Me · Songwriting

There’s A Circle Of Grace

Walter Brueggemann talks about the way that the Christian life can be summed up in two words – Gift and Task.

This post is definitely gift. I’ve been trying to write this song for a couple of weeks. I had the phrase ‘circle of grace’ that popped up in something I read, and I already had the words ‘where the lost can be found, and the bound can be freed.’

It took some time to realise what the song needed to be – two halves with something linking between the two. It seems that songs have a life of their own, and part of the craft of songwriting is to help bring that song to life. Was it Michaelangelo who described the work of a sculptor as bringing out the figure that is already there in the stone. Just removing the stone that is not part of the figure …

Anyway, here it is. Lyrics below and rough recording on BandCamp. Circle of Grace

Where the lost can be found

And the bound can be freed
There’s a far away place
That’s calling to me

Where the hungry are fed
And the dead can be raisedq
There’s a far away place
That’s calling to me

It’s not status
or money or looks
or keeping the rules
Empty handed
we come to this kingdom of fools

It’s not knowledge
or image
or power that’s the key
There’s a circle of grace
that’s setting us free

Where the broken are healed
and the least will be lifted on high
There’s a circle of grace
That’s where you’ll find me

Where the last will be first
and the thirsty be filled
There’s a circle of grace
That’s where you’ll find me.

Jonathan Evans. Copyright 2021.

Grace and peace to you.