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Inscribing the Text

Sermons and Prayers of Walter Brueggemann

By Walter Brueggemann

Publication Year: 2011

"This volume contains the most recent collection of Walter Brueggemann's sermons and prayers. That would be notable in itself: another dazzling set of words from a man whose sheer energy and creativity make us wonder if he is climbing Sinai every morning, for dictation.

"Students and readers of Brueggemann will hear cadences of familiar themes: in the scribe, we hear poet and prophet, testimony and resistance, truth and power, exile and captivity....

"The sermons and prayers of this particular scribe...will linger to re-text and re-ignite another generation of preachers." — from the Foreword by Anna Carter Florence.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-x

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Editor's Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

Hand a fledgling actor a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, tell him you want him to read the part of Stanley, and brace yourself, because any moment Marlon Brando is going to come charging into the room. Give a budding actress the score to Sweeney Todd, ask her to sing through it, and what you will hear is her best impersonation of Angela Lansbury. ...

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pp. xiv-18

I am glad to record my thanks to my colleague Anna Carter Florence, who worked mightily to transpose my sermons into this book. It is clear to me that she and I are on the same page about preaching, and that encourages me greatly. ...

On Generosity

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pp. 3-4

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The Preacher as Scribe

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pp. 5-19

Let me begin by considering four scriptural confrontations that might construe preaching as truth speaking to power. In these classic texts, the "hero," the one with whom we side in the narrative, is the preacher, the one who has been authorized by call to utter truth that lies outside the horizon of those addressed. ...

On Reading the Old Testament

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pp. 20-36

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Waiting in Central Casting

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pp. 21-24

This is a drama about greed. It has four characters in it. As we go along, you can decide which role you would like to play. If you get really engaged in the story, you have my permission to play more than one role. I will simply take care that you identify the roles carefully, so you know what you are doing. ...

On Reading Psalm 1

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pp. 25-26

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On Signal: Breaking the Vicious Cycles

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pp. 27-32

My father-in-law, Patrick D. Miller, was a distinguished Presbyterian minister—pastor at Druid Hills Church, denominational executive, and moderator of the General Assembly. One day he and I were discussing how to translate the Lord's Prayer... "forgive us our trespasses, forgive us our sins, forgive us our debts." ...

On Reading Psalm 116

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pp. 33-34

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Strategies for Humanness

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pp. 35-39

This is a very old-fashioned Gospel text about Jesus being tempted by the devil and resisting. It suits the beginning of Lent well. But the Gospel of Matthew is a church book. It cares about what the church is and how to be the church. So what if this Gospel reading is not about "the temptation of Jesus," ...

On Reading Psalm 104

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pp. 40-56

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On People Who Do "Great Things"

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pp. 41-47

There are two things you need to know about Elisha, this dynamo of social turmoil in ancient Israel. First, at the beginning, he asked his mentor, Elijah, for "a double share of your spirit" (2 Kgs 2:9). We are not told so, but apparently he received a double share. He became a man with courage, energy, and power who wades into the impossible and makes things new. ...

On Reading Psalms 50, 88,109

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pp. 48-50

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Uttered beyond Fear

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pp. 51-56

The entire drama of our faith and the entire truth of our lives is present in this narrative of the storm that takes only six verses to tell. You know very well the plot and the maneuvers made. I will line it out for you one more time. ...

On Reading Genesis 12-25

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pp. 57-58

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A Fourth-Generation Sellout

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pp. 59-62

A very strange thing happens in the memory of Israel. In the book of Genesis, things are clear and sequenced about our ancestors. In Genesis 12-24, Abraham with Sarah; Genesis 25-26, Isaac with Rebekah; Genesis 27-36, Jacob with Rachel; and Genesis 37-50, Joseph—four generations of promise. ...

On Reading Genesis 25-50

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pp. 63-64

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Misreading the Data

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pp. 65-68

The action part of the lesson plan is completed before we get to our text. It was an awesome encounter that reverberates yet among the disciples. The action part of such a learning enterprise is not difficult. You just have to get on the bus, go with the group, and pay close attention. You know Jesus will take care of it all. ...

On Enthronement Psalms

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pp. 69-70

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Disciples of the Great Connector

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pp. 71-75

When everything is fixed and settled and closed, cold and jelled, there still occur those odd traces of another truth that may break out, reconfigure, and redefine. For some at least, there is the wistful hope that our story could be retold differently and our lives could be relived differently, outside what is long cold and jelled. ...

On Reading Kings

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pp. 76-78

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What a Difference Mercy Makes

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pp. 79-84

Our gospel faith is organized around the way it was and the way it is. And we know the name of the one who has transposed our life from the way it was to the new way it can become. We say that the God known in Jesus Christ has changed everything, and that the television ads are false. ...

On Reading Psalm 2

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pp. 85-86

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Newness from God that Unlearns Family

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pp. 87-92

Peter is the key character in this story in Acts, and he is in a deep crisis. In order to understand his crisis, we do well to consider the longer sweep of his life. We meet him first as a fisherman. We notice that when the disciples are in a discussion, he always speaks first; he no doubt became the leader of the early church, ...

On Reading Joshua and Judges

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pp. 93-94

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One Exorcism, One Earthquake, One Baptism . . . and Joy

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pp. 95-100

In the life of the church, this is an odd and special Sunday: It is the final, seventh Sunday of the Easter season; seven Sundays is a long time to stay fixed on the wonder of the resurrection, that defining miracle of new life given us in Jesus. ...

On Reading Psalm 5

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pp. 101-102

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The Stunning Outcome of a One-Person Search Committee

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pp. 103-109

The work of some search committees is long, complicated, and quite public, surrounded by many rumors and much intrigue. There are other search committees that operate quickly, quietly, and simply, rather like the Westminster Dog Show—one judge looks and points to the winner, and the dogs do not even know the process is going on. ...

On Reading Psalm 4

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pp. 110-112

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Dreaming with Freedom midst Chaos

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pp. 113-117

Ordinarily when things seem strange, we gather around the Gospel that is familiar and reliable. When things seem too new and threatening, we appeal to God who is old and established. When everything changes, we sing about the changeless God: ...

On Reading Exodus 1-15

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pp. 118-120

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Joined in Suffering . . . Reliant on God's Power

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pp. 121-126

Christians just now have peculiar work to do, and that is what we celebrate on World Communion Sunday; we have the whole world on our horizon in this hour of communion. In the Epistle reading, Paul writes to Timothy: ...

On Beginning Lament Psalms

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pp. 127-128

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Missing by Nine Miles

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pp. 129-134

Everybody knows about the three wise men coming to the Christ child. No surprise there. Everybody knows about them bringing "gold, and frankincense, and myrrh," and singing "We Three Kings of Orient Are." No surprise there. No surprise, unless you pay close attention to the way in which Matthew tells the story. ...

On Reading Samuel

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pp. 135-136

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The Big Yes

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pp. 137-143

Our Old Testament story puts Israel in the wilderness between slavery and the land of promise. Israel has a rich and embarrassing memory of the wilderness, about how Israel conducted itself in a time of danger and deficit. The theme of wilderness is an appropriate one for Lent, ...

On Reading the Sinai Pericope

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pp. 144-160

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Saints Remembered and Saints to Come

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pp. 145-151

Mary and I are very glad to be at Peace Church for this wondrous celebration of 100 years. It is a first time for Mary to be in Tilden. As some of you will know, my father August was pastor here from 1931 to 1935. After we moved away to Kansas, I was here only one other time with my family for a brief visit in 1948. ...

On Reading Psalm 3

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pp. 152-154

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The Secret of Survival

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pp. 155-163

In chapter 19, Jeremiah declares that "this people" and "this city" are like a broken pot that cannot be mended. When he announced this devastating verdict upon the Jerusalem establishment, he predictably evoked harsh response. ...

On Reading Jeremiah 1

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pp. 164-180

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Variations from the Barrio

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pp. 165-174

It required considerable anguish for this aging white guy to dare to speak in the midst of the magic worked by Dwight Andrews. Anguish, because I only know three things about jazz: ...

On 9/11: One Year Later

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pp. 175-178

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Shrill Faith for the Nighttime

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pp. 179-185

You will recall that President Gerald Ford, when he became president after the long process of expelling Richard Nixon from the presidency, said—in his first public utterance as president—"America's long nightmare is over." He meant that we could move on and restore civic life. ...

On Reading Jeremiah 2

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pp. 186-188

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Bragging about the Right Stuff

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pp. 189-197

All great cities brag. They gather their energy, produce their images of success and prosperity, and unleash their propaganda in ads, slogans, and campaigns. They do so because they know, intuitively, that stories of success and prosperity draw people, mobilize resources, generate jobs, accumulate wealth, ...

On Reading Jeremiah 3

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pp. 198-200

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"Until"... Endlessly Enacted, Now Urgent

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pp. 201-208

Psalm 73 stands at the center of the Psalter, the first psalm of the third "book." It stands, moreover, at the center of the pietistic tradition of faith in which I have been nurtured and in which I gladly stand. I am aware that Psalm 73 does not really fit the theme of this colloquium, but this is my last chance. ...

On Reading Jeremiah 4

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pp. 209-210

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A Resurrection Option

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pp. 211-214

This poem was so crucial to the Old Testament community, because they were mired in an unbearable present tense, living under the grinding reality of one empire after another. In our time, moreover, our culture is so taken up in immediate crises of the economy and the military that there is no one left to think about God's future . . . unless it is the church. ...

On Reading Jeremiah 5

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pp. 215-216

First Class in Psalms

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pp. 217-218

Index of biblical references

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pp. 219-222

E-ISBN-13: 9781451419634
E-ISBN-10: 1451419635
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698270
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698274

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2011