Monday, November 24, 2014

No Secrets Are Hid!

From Whom No Secrets Are Hid, Introducing the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann and edited by Brent A. Strawn is published by WestminsterJohnKnox at www.wjkbooks.com. It is not Brueggemann's first on the Psalms, but he thinks of this one as "an invitation to growth in faith" and he hopes that it will "lead some to a deeper sense of worship in churches that read, sing, or chant the Psalms." I hope with him that this book will help expand the number of Psalms that are used in worship. He's right. Only a few of the Psalms among the 150 are a part of weekly worship and sometimes the Psalm of the day is skipped over with no comments.

The title of Brueggemann's book is part of a well-known and often used prayer in worship (BCP 355). God knows our secrets, even when we have not shared them with anyone else. Brueggemann reminds us that the Psalter includes the secrets of the human heart and community, and when spoken "out loud in speech and song in the midst of the community," these words are important, even "indispensable," he writes, "for the social and economic health of the body of faith and the body politic." The Psalter that was important for the Israelites, is important for Christians as well.

We may know only a few of the Psalms by heart, and Brueggemann notes that we are drawn to the Psalms, and yet we flee from them. Why? Perhaps because we are part of two worlds: our "closely held world," that is, our every day world that we both welcome and dread, and the other world, the Psalms' "counter world," where voices and words call us to a world in tension with our every day world. We want a new, improved world where the Good Shepherd will be near. And so we cling to the Psalms and the God who occupies that counter world "scripted for us in the Psalms."

Brueggemann looks at many groups of Psalms: 22 and 23, 29, 68, 104, 117, 140--150 to name a few, and he explains their meanings and uses by the people of ancient Israel, He says there is "a direct line of continuity from the old song of Moses (Exod. 15:18) through the Psalms to the prophetic declaration of Isaiah (52:7) to the announcement of Jesus and by Jesus, to the hope of the book of Revelation to the present." He reminds us that we are late participants in this "generative act of enthronement," but in our liturgies, we are like ancient Israel, regularly reasserting that the world is under the governance of the God of justice and righteousness, and the Psalms have "immediate implications for social practice and policy." Our singing and saying these poems is an act of hope that God's rule prevails and includes a resolve for us to participate. There is much more....find time to study it....

---Lois Sibley,
ireviewreligiousbks.blogspot.com