Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Ramblings and Reflections on The Pastor: A Memoir” by Eugene Peterson (Part one)

Some Ramblings and Reflections on The Pastor: A Memoir” by Eugene Peterson (Part one)


I am really enjoying this book. It really “resonates” with my soul. (I like that word “resonate” J) I am only half way thought it but thought that I should jot down some of my thoughts, as I think it will help clarify my many stray thoughts.

And my thanks to Alex Tang for sending me this book!

The foremost thing that really stands out for me is the realization (or reminder) that a pastor is not both “born and made” (as in the phrase “ ______ is born and not made”). It is “both / and”, and not “either / or”. But “made” is probably not the best word to use … “formed” would be a better choice.

I found it interesting that from the very beginning of reading the book, I found myself thinking (almost in parallel) about my own stories that shaped my identity and calling.  That’s another key word that kept popping up – stories, more specifically “my life stories”.  

It is very clear to me that Peterson is right in asserting that “The ways in which the vocation of pastor is conceived, develops and comes to birth is unique to each pastor”. (p6).

And I like the word he uses as a “modifier” of the “ambiguity and mystery” of the working life of a pastor: “maybe”. My parallel word to his “maybe” is “depends” J

I discovered quite a long time ago, I think about eight or nine years ago, that my personal life story is very important in the way God shapes who I am. This came out of period of time a mentoring triad (with Soo Inn and Sivin) that I decided to take my first personal one day retreat and disappear with my Bible, pen, notebook and a guide book and spent the day praying, reflecting and writing out a time line of my life, taking particular note of the “highs and lows” of my life, as well as the incidents (stories) that remained in my mind from childhood. Some were not exactly highs or lows but the fact that I remembered them so clearly alerted me to the fact that they were somehow significant.  And significant they certainly were.

I had dinner recently with some younger friends and as my wife and I were sharing some of our stories – from how we met etc., it once again reinforced how important my stories and our shared stories are, and I could see again with greater clarity how these stories helped shaped my life.

And “coincidentally” a couple of days ago, I watched an episode of ST: TNG entitled “First born” which was a story about Worf and his son Alexander, and a theme in that episode that helped tie the story together was that of how important it was to “know our stories” and “tell our stories” because these stories formed their cultural identifies. A bit of a tangent I know but hey, it’s my ramblings J

What was helpful was the reminder that stories are set in “place” and “time”. Place is important as is “kairos” time. What was intriguing to me was how I could visualize very clearly the places (scenes) of significance to me. The time though was unclear – dates and even years are vague but interestingly only the “chronos” time. 
The “kairos” moments remained very vivid.

On a side note, it was a reminder for me and a (slightly at least) deeper awareness of significance “land” and “place” is in the identity and worth of certain people groups. First of all of course, the land of Israel for the Jews, my Orang Asli friends in Malaysia and now in NZ, the Maori.

And now that I have bought my own little house that I call home, I find myself becoming more attached to it in a way that is hard to explain (even to myself). Makes me think of heaven as well – wondering what the “mansions” or “rooms” are like – the “dwelling place” Jesus is preparing  (see John 14:1-3) for us. Sounds very physical to me – not just a spiritual analogy.

Anyway, it is good to get the ball rolling on reflecting on this book.  Perhaps part two next week …. 

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