It’s been a while since I’ve read any Eugene Peterson. In those years I’ve experienced a lot. Moving country, starting up Innovista in Ireland, losing my mum suddenly to cancer, getting married, and most recently meeting my dad for the first meaningful time I can remember. I’ve come to a deeper recognition of the pain and complexity of life, how essential hope (in the NT Wright sense) is and a faith that feels different, deeply rooted, freer and more comfortable holding things in tension. All this to say that I’ve come to appreciate Peterson’s writing in a new way and found profundity and inspiration afresh from his deep thoughtfulness and graciousness. A few quotes that have inspired me so far from Practise Resurrection: A Conversation in Growing Up in Christ (based on Ephesians):
The air we breathe and the atmosphere we inhabit as believers and followers of Jesus is grace. If we don’t know wat grace is, the last place to go looking for help is the dictionary. Grace is everywhere to be experienced but nowhere to be explained…
And on peace:
Jesus respects us as persons. He does not force himself upon us. He does not impose peace. He does not coerce. Jesus treats us with dignity. Peace is never external to us. It is not the absence of war or famine or anxiety that makes it possible to live in peace. It is not accomplished by getting rid of mosquitos, rebellious teenagers and contentious neighbours, or burning heretics at the stake.
All of us are participants in peace. Jesus is at work bringing us, all that is us into a life of connectedness, of intimacy, of love. There is a lot going on, a lot involved. We are all involved whether we want to be or not. It takes a long time, because Jesus doesn’t push us around and make us shape up, doesn’t shut us up so that we don’t disturb the peace. Peace is always in process, never a finished product.
And finally (for now) the church as a place where this peace is worked out:
The church comprises a vast company of men and women in all stages of maturity: crawling infants and squalling babies, awkward and impulsive adolescents, harassed and fatigued parents, and occasional holy men and holy women who have it all together. All of us who understand and practise peace in the company of Jesus, who is our peace, have a lot of maturing to do… …Humankind does not mature all at once. And so peace is constantly in the making, and also constantly at risk. Church is where Jesus is proclaimed as ‘our peace’.
This give me hope. Hope for myself, hope for those who have to live with me (and endure my occasional rants!) and grace in my heart for those who I look down on because they ‘just don’t get it’ the way I do!