Biblical Reflections on Shalom,
One of my favourite Brueggemann books, which made me glad to change my ,mind about some things when I first read it in 1982! Reprinted and revised recently it is available from United Church Press. New books still come from Brueggemann with the regularity of quarterly periodicals. The last couple of years two on Jeremiah, one an Introduction to OT Theology. Another on the Bible and Redescribing Reality. And the intriguing An Unsettling God due in August this year. There is a consistency of faithful subversion in his writing that is simply too important for followers of Jesus and members of the Church community to ignore. So here's some more samples.
"The world does not believe in newness. it believes that things must remain as they are. And for those of us well off, it is a deep hope that things will remain as they are. Every new emergent is quickly domesticated; and if it cannot be domesticated, it is outlawed or crushed.
That is the bite in our faith and the crunch in our ministry. We are bearers of newness. But we address, and, in part, ourselves constitute a world which has a low tolerance level for newness. But the faith community, synagogoue and church, exists precisely to announce the new, to affirm that we do not live by what is, but by what is promised. So the hassle goes on...." (page 123)
"So the hassle goes on..." The other day I posted on risk assessment and discipleship. Now I want to think about the hassle factor. Jesus didn't say, "Come unto me and I will add to your hassles" - well, not in so many words. But there are plenty warnings about discomfort, rejection, cost and a general sense that Kingdom living will destabilise our comfort zones. So I think it's an interesting further missional question for a local church, or for me as an individual follower of Jesus: how far is hassle a key performance indicator of the faithfulness of our discipleship? I mean, where has my choice for justice over order created hassle for me? And where have I tried to bring newness of hope, of possibility, of vision, of energy, and found that trying to do this has created for me, hassle - and made me a hassle to the upholders of the status quo? Hmmmm?
The painting is by Daniel Bonnell, a contemporary american artist. It's called The Shadow in the Middle, and is based on the story of the adulteress. The play of light and shadow, of the woman's fear and the upright stance of Jesus facing the danger, and with his hand on her head, the pointed shadows cast by the stones on the ground and the surrounding shadows of the waiting upholders of the judicial status quo, give the picture a pervasive encroaching menace. Except for the shadow in the middle. So, the hassle goes on....