Saturday, May 21, 2011

from the book pile, 2011: The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson

I've been working my way through the tower of books teetering off the antique writing desk that serves as my nightstand.  Working my way through reading and working my way through the thoughts and learnings each title provokes.

When I first started this blog in 2006 (is it possible that this April marked my fifth anniversary of blogging?!?) one of my goals was to nurture a forum that kept me accountable for the cultural goods I consume.  Of course, I didn't really know then to articulate the goal in those terms.  The dawning of the truth that as in in worship so as in culture -- I did not make it, but it is making me.

Having also gotten quite clear with the truth that I will never be a professional book reviewer, I've let myself off the hook and changed up the way I document my reading.

The Pastor: A Memoir

Author:  Eugene H. Peterson
Genre:  memoir
Published:  Harper One, 2011

General Impression:  I've mentioned on several occasions how I feel about Eugene Peterson. If we know ourselves and each other best in light of the names we've been given, then I gladly accept the name Dr. Peterson most relishes, "Pastor Pete".  The Pastor is the second title I've read from Pastor Pete this year, both serving as lifeboats for Brian and me in a painful, uncertain season.  In a century hell-bent on molding the vocation of pastor into a career of corporate executive,  rather than as the shepherd Christ affirmed in fisherman-turned-sheepherder Peter: If you love me, then feed my sheep.

In a season of baffling mixed messages from the Church, Brian and I have been desperate for a renewed imagination of Pastor as Shepherd.  This book -- the story of Pastor Pete's long living-out of vocation -- led us through fertile, green pastures.  We are devouring dog-eared pages and breathing a sigh of contentment.

Two Excerpts (picked somewhat randomly, one from Brian & one from me):
(from Tamara) "But this was not my work, at least not my primary work, not the work I had been called to do. Gradually this became clear to me...The people who made up my congregation had plenty of problems and more than enough inadequacies, but congregation is not defined by it collective problems. Congregation is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether they  know it or not. They are not problems to be fixed, but mysteries to be honored and revered. Who else in the community other than the pastor has the assigned task of greeting men and women and welcoming them into a congregation in which they are known not by what is wrong with them, but by who they are, just as they are?"  (p. 137)

(from Brian, who would have preferred I include the entirety of chapter 20, "Bezalel") "Our building committee, seven of us, had selected Simon to be our architect after a disappointing meeting with a consultant from a large architectural firm that specialized in churches. ... What he didn't know and didn't bother to find out was that we had been worshipping together for well over a year in this multipurpose house basement, the catacombs, in which our meeting with had just taken place. What he didn't know and didn't bother to find out was that we were already a church, a church-in-formation. ... 

[after finding Simon, a  young architect eager to get to know the congregation in order to design their new building] And now our church had its Bezalel. Simon and I had long conversation in which we discussed the formation of congregation. I immersed him in all the liturgy that I knew, the nature and ways of worship. From his side he taught me the aesthetics of space and the ways that color and light and material textures worked together, the "fit " of the structure with the landscape and the community that would surround and inhabit it. The conversations of that year, formed in the ambiance of Bezalel and Moses in the wilderness and the congregation at worship in our catacombs sanctuary, developed into first blueprints and then a sanctuary on the six acres of empty Maryland farmland fronting Emmorton Road. It would become a place of worship and learning and community formation: simple and honest -- a piece of art for worshipping God in the "beauty of holiness" in this suburban desert of secularism."

Reading Pastor Pete's book in a Washington D.C. neighborhood park,
 while our kids played frisbee across the field.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...