I am a fan of Walter Brueggemann. In fact, every time I read some of his stuff I breakout into an silent, yet stunningly awkward chant… ‘Brueggy, Brueggy, Brueggy.’ I did so again upon a quick glance through his book “The Prophetic Imagination.”
The task of prophetic imagination and ministry is to bring to public expression those very hopes and yearnings that have been denied so long and suppressed so deeply that we no longer know they are there. Hope, on the one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority of opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question. Thus the exilic community lacked the tools of hope. The language of hope and the ethos of amazement have partially been forfeited because they are an embarrassment. The language of hope and the ethos of amazement have been partly squelched because they are a threat.
Walter Brueggemann, “The Prophetic Imagination” page 65.
I cannot help but think that one task of preaching is to offer the divine hope of an alternative community unafraid to contrast the reality which is of ‘majority opinion.’ Preaching needs to give us hope-filled language offering this alternative, yet also offer a critique of our context. This would be a language that would dare to point us in the direction moving sharply against the grain of our cultural dreams and expectations and into the Kingdom of God.
It takes a distinct courage for a pastor to be so daring.
What happens when you hear something that challenges your comfortable status quo? How do you respond?