Church Anew: You Who Casts Our Fear & Other Writings from Walter Brueggemann

Today we share two pieces from the writings of Walter Bruggemann: You Who Casts Out Fear and Meditations on Social Location. We invite you to join in Dr. Bruggemann’s prayer and to understand his history.

You Who Casts Out Fear

You are the God from whom no secret is hid, and so

    we tell before you our great fear:

We have fear down to our toes because of the danger of the COVID-19 virus;

We have fear up to our ears from violence all around us;

We have fear for the fragility of our economy and our place in it;

We have fear for the threats our democracy faces;

We have fear before the surge of too many immigrants among us;

We have fear that causes us loss of sleep;

We have fear that skews our vision and distorts our judgment.

We know that fear is contagious; it passes among us; it flows from issue to issue, and our negative adrenalin is magnified.

Our fear evokes our worst selves and summons us to shriveled, demeaned, and demeaning lives.

But then You! You as perfect love;

             You who crowds in against our deep fears:

Cancel our fears!

Veto our anxiety;

Nullify our uneasiness!


O perfect love, cast out our fear;

   Cast out our parsimony,

       that we may become generous in self-giving,

       that we may gladly risk more and more of who we are

                  and what we have.


O perfect love, cast out our fear;

   cast out our anger,

        that we may become more forgiving,

        that we may more readily transform circumstances of threat

              into venues for shared wellbeing.


O perfect love, cast out our fear;

   cast out our guarded isolation,

       that we may be more welcoming of the “other” in our midst,

       that we may be more accepting of those unlike us.

O perfect love, we turn to you so that we are not eaten alive by our fear.

In your presence we move toward fearlessness;

    let us be fearless in our generosity;

    let us be fearless in our forgiveness;

    let us be fearless in our hospitality.

Let us put ourselves down in your deep embrace that holds us closely,

     along with all those whom you love.

We pray in the fearless name of Jesus.  Amen.

Walter Brueggemann

Columbia Theological Seminary

December 9, 2021

For Myers Park Presbyterian Church


Meditations on Social Location

(In response to a query from my friend, Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev)

It is no great wonder that I have come down in the covenantal-Deuteronomic-prophetic trajectory of the Bible.

My dad, August, was a rural pastor who in the 20’s was educated at Eden Seminary in the social gospel. He was not outspoken about it, but that was no doubt his lens.

When I went to college, I majored under Th. W. Mueller who was a one-man sociology department. He was a great advocate for social justice. I was in his class on “race” when the Brown v. Topeka decision was rendered. Austere as he was, he danced in class that day. (Richard Niebuhr, who long ago was president of the college, spoke at my commencement).

When I went to Eden Seminary, my dad’s school, most of my teachers were friends of the Niebuhrs. Richard Niebuhr had, long ago, been dean of the seminary. Reinhold Niebuhr was a long time chair of the board of the seminary. Both retained a long lasting relationship with the seminary. As a result, the Niebuhr brothers exercised a great influence on the seminary that was dubbed by some in our church as the “sociological” seminary. It was there that I was introduced to the Hebrew Bible and most especially to the prophets by my teachers, Allen Wehrli and Lionel Whiston Jr.

My graduate study at Union Seminary with James Muilenburg and Samuel Terrien urged me further into the prophets, most especially Muilenburg who in compelling ways performed Jeremiah. It was then that I got first access to Heschel on the prophets. He had once lectured at Eden Seminary while I was a student there.

All of this was undergirded by my abiding indignation for the way in which my father was treated with economic parsimony by several of his congregations.

All of that, plus the fact that Deuteronomy contains the easiest Hebrew in the Bible!


Walter Brueggemann

January 5, 2022