Yesterday, I spent the day with Walter Brueggemann. For most people this would not be very exciting. Brueggemann is not a name recognized in the wider world, but, he is an icon in the Christian academic world, particularly as an Old Testament scholar.
I didn’t spend the whole day with Walter and I didn’t have him to myself. I actually went to church three times yesterday and listened to some of the best, most carefully crafted sermons that I have ever heard. We sang a lot of new songs in those services led by talented song leaders who could get those gathered singing in four-part harmony in minutes. I talked to a lot of people, all interested in worship from all over the world. (there was even one fellow from St Helens…..England), but Walter was the centerpiece of the day.
I’ve read a number of Walter’s books. He’s written around sixty of them. There seemed to be some confusion about the number in the various introductions that people made, but, it is a lot of books, a lot of influence, So many books that, at one point in his informal conversation, he quoted from a book whose title he could not quite remember,but he could describe the cover.
He sees the Old Testament and particularly the Psalms as a script for life. Likely the best piece of advice that came from the day for using the Psalms in our time and as a tool of pastoral care and ministry was to add our own superscripts to the various Psalms. Psalm 3 has one “A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.”. He suggests that as we read the Psalms we imagine the person or situation in our lives and in our community that could spawn the words “The cry of Herb when he finds out that his teenage daughter is pregnant”,”The song of Donna and Joe when they learn that they will be having a baby after so many years of trying”.
There was so much more from this wonderful, humble, witty, really old man, The superscripts to the script of life is the piece that I am mulling over today.
It was a good day with Walter at the Calvin Worship Symposium.