My immersion in Eugene Peterson’s books continued this past week with Practicing Resurrection. Alongside Answering God, it is one of his finest, and a great introduction to the lovely way his theology of God meshes with his theology of prayer and church and intimacy and God-human relationship, using Ephesians as the starting text.
Reading the book was more like having a series of conversations about life and faith with Peterson in front of a fire on a winter’s evening, drinking hot chocolate, all the while attentively reflecting on Paul’s text. Gentle, yet direct, encouraging, yet challenging, he shares his love for Jesus and writes of subjects close to his heart. His words spurred me on to pray for and love others, more and more.
In fact, by the end of the book, I was even more convinced that loving and praying, and pursuing a life that cultivates loving and praying (not as abstractions, but loving real people and allowing my heart to break in prayer for concrete situations) is the best way to live. Over the next few posts, I will be sharing more about this.
The book also confirmed a little desire that has been growing in me for awhile: to memorize an entire book of the bible. As I’ve been slowly recovering the sacredness of words this past year, my love of scripture has been rekindled. Encouraged by Ann Voscamp at A Holy Experience to create a memory book, and then catching Peterson’s own love for Ephesians, I started last week.
Memorizing does not take much daily time–20 minutes of re-reading the verses each day is enough to let the verses sink in deeply. And, memorizing gives me permission (and that is key!) to spend a week on the same verses, rather than move to new ones each day. The focus is now on the verses, not on the scripture reading plan!
Memorizing is also a natural partner to the ancient Christian practice of lectio divina (Latin for divine reading), a centuries old way of reading and praying scripture (here is an intro). The movements of lectio divina are often described as a meal: reading the verses is eating, meditating on them is chewing, praying them is digestion, and contemplating them is that lovely full feeling after a good meal–and the words (the Word) are now nourishing our very being. Memorizing fits well into the reading stage and is closer to what Christians would have done in earlier times.
If you’ve never memorized scripture, then start with a verse or two (and see how easy it is!) Here is a great musical version of Philippians 4:6-7. I guarantee you will have the verses memorized by the end of the video!
Thankful today for…
“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us (drenched us!) in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Eph 1:3)
Scripture and the written witness of Christians centuries ago to the presence and power of Christ in their lives.
Eugene Peterson’s books and the privilege of this time to immerse myself in them.
A wonderful thanksgiving feast with dear friends.
Wind swept views.
Friendship…over time and experiences and years of conversation, grateful for the knowing and the being known.
My godson Ben.