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I am excited to share my review of The Bible Makes Sense by Walter Brueggemann.
Walter is William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of dozens of books and hundreds of articles. Learn more about him at Walter Bruggemann.
Walter has both a powerful command of prose and a powerful command of the Bible. Let me share my takeaways from this compelling book.
“The God whom we confess is a serious partner in our life.”
“Nothing and nobody can separate us. Nothing can come between God and the people of the covenant.”
Our relationship with God is a serious matter. Yes, it is a relationship where we are both loved by God and we reciprocate our love for and to God. However it is much more than just this.
God wishes to be our partner in life. God wants us to make a commitment to this lifelong relationship and partnership. God is serious about His love for us and His life long partnership with us. Because God is committed, He wants us to be too! Our relationship and love for God is a wonderful, exciting, and life changing covenant that we enter into with God.
With Us and For Us
“We are bold to affirm that in Jesus we know fully and unmistakably that God is not only with us but for us.”
In Jesus God came to visit with us in human form. God did not come just to visit. God came to be for us. The actions we see by Jesus reveal the extent to which God was for us. These actions included healing and feasting. Jesus healed people to their innermost core. He made them feel whole. He accepted people that others would not accept. Everyone was welcome at His table: lepers, prostitutes, the demon possessed, the sick and the lame. It is in this way that Jesus was with us and for us. Jesus continues to be with us and for us.
“The actions of Jesus are home-bringing events. He came especially to the outcasts, displaced, and rejected ones in society (the lepers, the demon possessed, the sick, the lame). And he acted toward them in ways so that they could be “at home” again. To bring people home is God’s work.”
“It is a whole new self-understanding to know that our vocation is to end Exile and bring people to a sense of being home.”
Jesus brings us home! Jesus brings everyone home! No one is left out. No one deserves to be left out. Our vocation is to help Jesus bring everyone home. We are to end the exile in the world and let everyone know that they are loved, welcomed and valued.
Life and Death
“Life means to be significantly involved in the community of caring, meaning, and action.”
“Death means to be excluded from such a community or denied access to its caring, meaning, or action.”
Life is not an individual matter. Life is to be lived in community. It is in community where we take care of each other. We let people know that their lives and actions and have meaning. Our combined and shared actions create powerful synergy!
“The central invitation of the Bible is to embrace newness.”
“Most of us are heavily committed to what is old and exhausted, and we have quit hoping that God can do his newness among us.”
We are new creations. Christ is within us. Each day is an opportunity to take new Christ inspired action. If we open to God this newness will flow out of us!
“The Bible finally is not concerned with right morality, right piety, or right doctrine. Rather it is concerned with faithful relationships between God and the people, between all the brothers and sisters in God’s community, and between God’s community in the world God has made.”
Relationships are important to God! God loves each one of us! God will not force us to love Him but wishes that we love Him back. God also wants us to love others in our community and even those in other communities that we may or may not come in contact with. Community is important to God. The community is to love and take care of its members.
“It is here presumed that the Bible is not an “object” for us to study but a partner with whom we may dialogue.”
The Bible is an invitation to and for dialogue. When we open and read it’s pages we should feel comfortable to have honest dialogue with God and our brothers and sisters about the content on its very pages.
The Bible can often be a mystery to those who read it. There are various narratives which combine to make a great story. We have a great story, which is God’s story, which is then the story of creation, with humans in the middle of it. We have Israel’s story, called to be the promise bearing humans. Often, people wonder how the various stories, poems, prophetic texts, Gospels, and letters all fit together. This course by N. T Wright will unpack some of the questions surrounding the meaning of the Bible to bring a coherent sense of what is being communicated by the biblical writers. The Bible then, truly, becomes a Grand Story of God’s faithfulness.
A Journey of Discernment with the teachings of Mary Margaret Funk and other contemplative voices by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Margaret Funk: This e-course explores the contemplative approach to discerning the small and large decisions in life, which comes from cultivating a life practice of unceasing prayer (whatever types of prayer that may encompass for you). Discernment means sorting our thoughts and following the impulse of grace given by the Holy Spirit. As Sr. Meg writes, “Since we are not our thoughts, we can observe them rising and follow the ones that are from God.” This is a way of coming more awake and discovering the spark of divinity burning in our hearts.
Poetry and Prayer from the Celtic Tradition by Carl McColman: The traditional Celtic people of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales wove prayers, blessings, poems, and songs into every aspect of their daily lives — using the power of language to blend a rich spirituality of presence and wisdom into the very fabric of their being. Many of these poetic invocations and charming poems were collected by folklorist Alexander Carmichael over 100 years ago and preserved in the book Carmina Gadelica — the “Charms of the Gaels.”
Celtic Spirituality At the Edge of Mystery by Carl McColman: Consider it a pilgrimage into one of the best examples of everyday spirituality. Celtic wisdom and poetry encourages us to recognize the holy all around us, honors and protects the sacred earth, gives inspiration to free our creative voice, and presents a holistic path that links the quest for holiness with an embodied sense of Divine love.
Sounds True has titles by teachers and authors such as Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr, David Frenette, Parker Palmer , Eckhart Tolle , Michael Singer , Jon Kabat-Zinn , Marianne Williamson to name a few.
Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.