Today’s Eugene Peterson Quote:
The Tree. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11: 1. Holy Spirit, shake our family tree; release your ripened fruit to our outstretched arms. I’d like see my children sink their teeth into promised land pomegranates. And Canaan grapes, bushel gifts of God, while I skip a grace rope to a Christ tune. Eugene Peterson (from Chapter Fifteen, The Contemplative Pastor p. 164)
And so, it comes to an end.
My trek through The Contemplative Pastor now draws to an end. Fifteen chapters and an Introduction. Thirty-seven blog entries and well over 32,000 words (including, of course, a lot of Peterson’s).
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our journey through Peterson’s classic.
I, for one, know that this book has dramatically shifted my view of pastoral ministry. I was already on a trek with Jesus, exploring the major differences between the Americanized pastor I once looked up to (the rancher/leader who looks more like a business executive and marketing manager) versus the shepherd/pastor who simply does his or her very best to practice the Kingdom presence of God and encourage others to do the same. And then I open up The Contemplative Pastor and find author Eugene Peterson offering me this unique invitation to become the unbusy pastor, the subversive pastor, and the apocalyptic pastor. He suggests that I take my job as a professional and shove it, becoming instead a lover of God whose primary interest is the ancient art of curing souls, caring for the sheep in my meadow just as Jesus cared for the sheep God put into His flock.
It’s amazing how a book written for pastors back in 1989 can be so culturally current in our society today. And while I find it a shame that I went through so many years of pastoral ministry without hearing these rich words from Peterson, I also know that God’s timing is perfect. It could very well be that God knew I wouldn’t have listened and appreciated Peterson’s words back in 1998 when I started my church plant in Cedar Rapids. Maybe the Lord knew that it would take a unique set of difficult circumstances in my life and ministry before I would stop long enough to ponder Peterson’s thoughts on the pastoral ministry in America.
Maybe right now, you are not in a place where Peterson’s book is hitting you where it is hitting me. That’s fine. No worries. We’re all on God’s timetables that are custom designed for each of us.
My suggestion is that you keep the book around and hold onto my notes. I’m figuring I will want to pick them both up again from time to time to help me remember the high calling Jesus has given us. If you’re like me, the daily grind of pastoral ministry in America can get me on a road I really don’t want to travel.
Thank God, Eugene Peterson wrote this classic, which can help bring us back home to the original purposes of God for pastoral ministry. In the meantime, my friends, let’s all go outside and stand under The Family Tree, asking the Holy Spirit to shake the branches, once more.
My prayer: Father God, I thank You that You’re never done transforming me, making me more and more into the image of the Great Pastoral Shepherd, Jesus of Nazareth. I thank You for writers such as Eugene Peterson, a pastor who speaks from thirty years of shepherding one church for the sake of Christ. I listen. I pray. I respond. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So now that I’m at the finish line of blogging my way through this classic book by Eugene Peterson, what gems do I need to take with me? What truths need to become action points for me in the days ahead? And if there were only one or two ahh-hah moments I will hold onto, what would those moments be?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Contemplative Pastor?
Over a 37-blog series, you and I will take a deeper look at Eugene Peterson’s classic, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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