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Imaginative Worship | Walter Brueggemann

Walter BrueggemannOur worship is an act of spirit-led imagination that permits us to see and live differently, it is very upstream, against the grain of dominant reality.

—Walter Brueggemann, Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 132.

Mandate to Difference | Walter Brueggemann

The cover of Brueggemann's Mandate to DifferenceThe world is dark. Brueggemann describes our current situation as “technological, therapeutic, military consumerism” (63).

  • Technological: We blindly accept new technologies which give us a sense of invincibility.
  • Therapeutic: We are obsessed with “pain-free, death-free, inconvenience-free existence at the expense of the neighbor” (63).
  • Military: We put our faith (and our money) in military power.
  • Consumerism: We buy in order to achieve happiness.

In the midst of this dark world, the Hebrew Scriptures offer hope. Mandate to Difference is a collection of essays and sermons that offer an alternative way of living based on God’s Word.

All of Brueggemann’s favourite themes are found here: the necessity of Sabbath, the call for justice, and the challenge to imagine a different future that challenges the current ideology. Since this is a collection, many of the ideas are repeated in different forms, as Brueggemann admits in the preface. This doesn’t take away from the work, it reminds the reader of what is important.

If you cringe at the boisterous, cocky new sound of religion in politics, if you worry about the divisiveness of “red” and “blue,” and if you are vexed that too many people claim to be speaking directly for Christ … (1)

… then read these essays and accept Brueggemann’s invitation to be different.

—Walter Brueggemann, Mandate to Difference: An Invitation to the Contemporary Church (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007).

Sabbath as Resistance | Walter Brueggemann

The cover of Brueggemann's Sabbath as ResistanceI remember the uncertainty in my mind the first Sunday I went to work.

Raised in a Pentecostal church, I was well aware of the classical prohibition against Sunday shopping. Still, when our small-town IGA decided to open on Sundays, I was scheduled to bag groceries. Fortunately, my church (and family) was grace-filled enough to also recognize the value of making a bit of money to pay for college.

In Sabbath as Resistance, Brueggemann takes a huge step away from these cultural issues (which are now firmly in the rear-view mirror of most North American Christians). Instead, he interprets the fourth commandment in light of other Old Testament passages.

Unlike some of the shorter prohibitions against murder and theft, the Sabbath command is quite robust:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

The essence of this command, for Brueggemann, counteracts life in Egypt where the Israelite’s worth was determined by their around-the-clock brick making ability. Sabbath reminded Israel that they were more than producers and consumers.

This command is incredibly life-giving. In consecutive studies, we see how it has the potential to free us from anxiety, coercion, exclusivism, and even multitasking!

If you’ve ever felt overloaded with the simple task of living in our consumer-oriented society, this short study is gold. Mediate on these passages and learn the freedom that comes when we resist “the seductions of Pharaoh”.

—Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014).

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