Sunday, June 18, 2006

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Well, I want to get back on the bloggin’ horse with a post about a man that more people should get familiar with. Eugene Peterson has been a mentor and pastor to me for years now through his books and his translation of the Bible (The Message), and I have GOT to commend one of his newest books to anyone who will listen to me.
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places is the first in a five-book opus for Eugene, with which I believe he is seeking to leave a legacy for the church after he has gone. In this first book, he divides it into three parts – Christ plays in creation, in history, and in community. I have only read the creation and half of the history parts and it has floored me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Eugene, one of the best things that I think he brings to the table is an awareness of the presence and activity of God in the ordinary, everyday events of life. Making a sandwich in the kitchen can be on par with reading your Bible if it is done in a spirit of knowing that God is alive and active in that moment. For a culture (even a Church culture) that lives for experiences and feelings and moments, this is a clarion call to remember that God is not a magician or a circus monkey, here to poof away our troubles or entertain us until we get to Heaven. He is God and He is always actively pursuing His creation.

Two of the things that have affected me most in this book are his thoughts on the Sabbath and a seemingly obscure sentence in the history section. For the Sabbath, Eugene makes a winsome and convincing case of the need for a rest to be built into the rhythm of our weeks. Rest frees us from the idolatry of work; it is good for our mind, heart, and soul; it is a gift from God and commanded by God; and it helps frame our weeks. A Sabbath gives us a chance to celebrate and reflect on God’s presence with us in the past week, and reorients us to have Christ-healed eyes through which to see the coming week. This weekend I took a 24-hour Sabbath from checking email and working around the house, and to know that I had made that decision almost made me feel like I was on a mini-vacation. I want to establish this as part of life’s rhythm for me and my family, and I very testing season of life is upon us with GUPY beginning next Sunday.

As for the obscure sentence that seemed to scream at me, Eugene was talking about reading the Old Testament accounts and stories before Exodus, and he describes different people that we have read about. Then he says, “We are getting a feel for the ways of God among us.” Now I know you might be saying, “Whoo, that is sooooo amazing.” But don’t lay on your sarcasm too thick just yet. What I realized through this (and through his teaching in general) is that I read Scripture to get a feel for the ways of God for my life. I read Scripture in good ol’ inductive Bible study mode and I emphasize that APPLY part, or “What does it mean for me?” But is Scripture about me? Or is it about God? And if I get a feel for the ways of God, will I not better understand myself? Because God is life. God is the source and author of faith and of love and of all things. To get a feel for the ways of God is to see myself correctly. The ways of God in calling obscure shepherds to leadership and fatherhood; the ways of God in using a talking donkey; the ways of God in somehow using my feeble efforts to love Him and love my neighbors; the ways of God in playing with my daughters or driving down a busy street. I need to recover a feel for the ways of God in Scripture and in life.

I urge you friend to check this book out. If you are in vocational ministry, Eugene will teach you to be a better pastor, and if you are in the ministry that comes from being a disciple, Eugene will remind you of the wonder and the presence of God in the things of your life that you find the most ordinary and most un-God-filled.

1 comment:

Alex said...

just wanted to jump in and sound a hearty 'roar' of an amen to marsh's post here. eugene is just the man, and this book is particularly glorious.