The Walter Brueggemann Library brings together the wide-ranging and enlivening thought of popular biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann over his storied career. Each volume collects previously published work on a biblical theme that has deeply informed Brueggemann’s scholarship, in an accessible digest for readers who want to freshly engage his prophetically minded but approachable writing on the topic.
In Our Hearts Wait, Brueggemann meditates on the emotional range of our longings and gratitudes in the psalms, revealing how this bold outpouring of our full selves to the divine has effects far beyond introspection. He traces how the language of the psalms offers a template for liturgies that shape not only our collective worship and communities, but the worlds they create and sustain. Words of worship do not fall vacant and inactive—they help bring into being realities both sacred and sociopolitical.
Throughout this exploration of the psalms, Brueggemann shows readers how the language we use in worship performs what it proclaims. It nurtures and challenges us in seasons of orientation and praise, disorientation and grief, reorientation, and thanksgiving—bringing our full attention to each experience in its turn. But in doing so, the words and deeds of worship can also sharpen our awareness of social constructions and relationships that undergird our common life. They reveal power imbalances and uneven distributions of resources, and, if we let them, urge us forward in our efforts toward justice. Thus, psalms of praise express trust in and abandonment to God, and also pose sharp critiques of unjust public policies that abandon those who are socially invisible. The psalms of grief and lament accompany communities through real experiences of loss and suffering—but also make room for the sufferers to be heard and to challenge the status quo.
The language of worship, when used intentionally and with care, helps to create a reality marked by fidelity, abundance, truth, hope, and dependence on God. With Brueggemann as guide, readers can apprehend the potency of the psalms’ bold petition and dialogue with God, giving voice to the distressed and anticipating the transformation of our lives together and as a society.
Questions for reflection are included at the end of each chapter, making this book ideal for individual or group study.
“What a gift to dwell in the world of the Psalms with Brueggemann in a way that allows us to look again at the world we thought we knew as the creation of the wild and wonderful God of the Psalms.” —Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Revolution of Values
“Brueggemann’s mind makes us wiser; his heart breaks ours open. His theological and devotional code-cracking of the Psalms is a summons to sanctuary in an anxious age: a reminder that this ancient songbook doesn’t just grant permission to duet or dance-battle with God, it is (still and always) emotional catharsis, communal call to action, and good medicine for even the most novel ills that ail us.” —Molly Baskette, senior minister of First Church Berkeley UCC and author of How to Begin When Your World Is Ending
“This series is sort of like the ‘best hits’ album of one of the world’s greatest theologians.” —Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and co-founder of Red Letter Christians