Spirit Filled Spirituality

walter-brueggemannWalter Brueggeman gave a remarkable sermon at Duke Chapel on April 5, 2009 in which he discussed the importance of a conjunction, such as but or yet, in the Bible.
Particularly in the Psalms, Brueggeman notes that a conjunction provides us with three startlingly different perspectives. On the left hand side of the conjunction is a recounting of the pain and suffering of the speaker, of the injustices occurring in his life. On the right hand side of the conjunction is the recognition of who God is—how He is truly greater than any king or earthly circumstance the speaker may confront. Importantly, the conjunction establishes the life-with-God reality of pain and suffering and seeming uncertainty that is boldly joined with the grace-filled intercession of God.

 

My eye has grown dim from grief, and all my members are like a shadow. The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stir themselves up against the godless. Yet the righteous hold to their way, and they that have clean hands grow stronger and stronger. Job 17: 7-9

  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame. But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; "Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver? let him rescue the one in whom he delights!" Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast. Psalm 22: 1-9

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled; I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me; they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! Psalm 22: 14-19


For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place. I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows. Psalm 66: 10-13

 

For my enemies speak concerning me, and those who watch for my life consult together. They say, "Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken, for there is no one to deliver." O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed; let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace. But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge. I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. Psalm 71: 10-17

The complete sermon is available online: Continuing Through the Disruptive Conjunction - April 5, 2009; Walter Brueggeman http://www.duke.edu/web/chapel/090405.mov

 

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