Brueggemann, Peace: Understanding Biblical Themes: pp. 59-61 — What does it mean that the Lord of Freedom controls the brickyards? Of course it says something about this Lord. It says that "Let-my-people-go" is powerful and for us. It says to us: "Get out from under the load of oppression and coercion." The Lord's intention is that we should not have to lead that kind of life, no matter how much the technological, bureaucratic propaganda of the regime lays on us. The Lord is for freedom and is powerful enough to introduce freedom into the grimmest brickyard there could be. That is the odd faith of the children of Israel to which we are heirs. It says the Lord has not abandoned the world.But what it says about us!
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 57-58 - Brickyards always seem to envelop us and everybody thought that it had to be like that. The slaves and the owners. But the Bible, the announcement of shalom, raises an unheard of question.... It could have been Moses or anybody with any name, because what counted is what he said: "Let my people go." That is what he said. And the moment it was said, the brickyard was changed. And it will never be the same again. That is the good news, good news for the slaves, but also for the foreman. The brickyard has been completely transformed by that announcement: "Let my people go!" That is the beginning of shalom.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 56-57 — As stated last week, the brickyard is a place of competent production where the production schedule is taken with great seriousness. It is also a place of coercion and profit. It is profit for the people who own and sell the bricks and set the production schedule. But for the people who make the bricks, it is a place of coercion. That is, they are there to meet other people’s standards, to knuckle under others’ demands. Here there is no zone of freedom, not even a hint of a break in the heat of the day. The gap between the people of profit and the people who are coerced is not an accident of the system, but is built into the design of the system. Most often the story of the brickyard is put out in company literature. Remarkably the biblical story of the brickyard is told from the perspective of the coerced.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 56 — One of the things a study of the Bible can do is to provide us with images that help us to understand better the flow and situation of our lives. Shalom is such an abstract word in our ears that we need to find ways to make it concrete. The Bible never talks about shalom in an abstract or fuzzy way. It is always very specific and concrete. In Christian faith, when we talk about shalom we mean incarnation. God's shalom is always embodied in such a way that people know it is happening in their historical experience.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 53 — As noted two weeks ago, Jesus is not only the one who frees and unites; he is also the one who is free and united. Jesus is free from all the claims and expectations of the world. He is the one united in his person with a singleness of vision and commitment, united with his brothers and sisters in the pain and joy of the world. We must ask how it was that he had the power of freedom and the power of unity in his person. That could be articulated in many ways, but is the mystery of it not in his vulnerability? He sought nothing, asked nothing, feared nothing; he emptied himself and became obedient to death on a cross. And in his emptiness, his obedience, and his death, has become power toward life, toward freedom and unity.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 52 & 53 — I have wondered if we have any models or experiences in which freedom and unity come together. I suggest that that what the Eucharist is about. Holy Communion is our supreme experience of all of God's people coming together, not on our terms, but on God's terms. It is our vision of unity being actualized. But it is also the place of freedom, where man, woman, and child comes face-to-face with the power of the risen Lord, celebrates baptism, and is set free to his or her own humanity, It is where we are intimately and powerfully together in freeing ways for the sake of the human spirit among us. So we say, "This is the joyful feast of the people of God. Come from the East and the West, and from the North and the South." We come in joy because here we are valued with our peculiar dignity and worth. But it is joy for people with a common identity.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 51&52 - So we have this gospel of freedom and unity. It occurred to me that these two central dimensions of shalom pull in opposite directions. It is a promise of freedom, but freedom is surely "to do one’s own thing." As we struggle for ourselves and for others, how do we permit persons to do their own thing without disrupting everything else? But unity is having it all together, all of us sharing in and celebrating what we have in common. The hard work of shalom is to keep these in balance and in tension with each other. Freedom without unity tends to be destructive self-seeking with no regard for others. Unity without freedom tends to be conformity that crushes the humanity and imagination of those involved.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 50-51—Jesus presented to people the possibility of living free lives—not driven or frantic, but living responsibly where they found themselves. But the end of coercion in their lives also required the end of fragmentation. And he announced that the end of fragmentation was possible as he called people away from idolatries, as his tradition had always done: No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Matthew 6:24
"Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Luke 12:33-34
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 49 and 50 - The promise of the Gospel is that we may be both free and united. That is the substance of shalom...That is an enormous promise, the one people in our time are waiting to hear. The promise of freedom is powerful to those who live coerced lives and are cut off from joy. The promise of unity is powerful to folks who are cut off from other people and from their own lives, who are frenzied and frantic because of their fragmentation (Reminiscent of what is going on now with the situation of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, et.al.—MA). As one reflects on the promise of freedom and unity and on the problem of coercion and fragmentation, the intersection of the two become clear...It is when we are fragmented in the hopeless effort to serve too many gods and honor too many priorities that we are coerced.
Brueggemann, Peace, pp. 49: The lack of unity we face lies not only between groups in our society but in the schizoid posture we come to take for granted in our own lives, so that in our carefully delineated roles, we are like the man possessed with a demon whose name was Legion (Mark 5:2-9). The Gospel wills us not to live that kind of life. After Jesus casts out the demon, the Gospel reports: They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. (Mark 5:15) This is what Jesus does and what the church might be doing. He takes this man with a scattershot life and restores him to unity concerning his person. Notice the translation: "right mind." And notice also that when the others saw it, they were afraid. The world is afraid of right-minded—that is, single-minded—people.