Today's Devotions

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Showcase: The Holy Spirit

  • A Sanctuary for the Holy Spirit +

    In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will guide your paths. Proverbs 3: 6. It is a bit of a Read More
  • I Believe in the Holy Spirit +

    The I Believe series, of which Rector Michael Green is the editor, illustrate basic Christian teaching in practical, understandable language. Read More
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eugene petersonEugene Peterson, the internationally best-selling Christian author who passed into the great unknown this week,

was a prince among preachers, a giant of devotional writing. But what made Peterson so unique was that he was a master of transformation. (this is excerpted from a longer article. The link is at the bottom of this excerpt).
 
Peterson once commandeered a key idea associated with atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche — that the only way to live life is to find a standard and stick to it — and repurposed it to be about following Jesus. Peterson literally stole the nonbeliever’s catchphrase, “a long obedience in the same direction,” and made it the name of his own best-selling Christian book. “The Message,” his paraphrase of the Bible that has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide, transformed the dusty, ancient Christian scriptures into imaginative literature for contemporary readers. He radically changed the way American believers saw God, faith and church with the ideas contained in his 30-plus books.
 
In the coming days, Peterson will be eulogized by many, and the praises they will heap on him will be well-deserved. But death also provides an opportunity for self-reflection, to remember how the person who has passed reminds us of who we are — for better or worse. So when we tell the story of Eugene Peterson’s life, we must also include this chapter in the narrative. For it tells us something about 21st-century Christianity and those of us who are a part of it overlook to our own peril.
 
While I never had another chance to speak in depth with Peterson, whose health declined, I see his admonition toward a “long obedience” in that last controversy. I do not know why he backpedaled. Perhaps he was pressured. Maybe he was too weary to fight another battle and ready to turn toward his final journey home. But I do not have to judge the man by a single moment. I can envision his wise words about pressing on, imperfectly, in search of God, until the very end.
 
The modern church is often a movement that will love you — so long as you behave according to its rules. It is a movement that can propel you to fame and fortune — so long as you do not lean on its sacred cows. It is a movement that will wipe out brother or sister in the name of culture-war victory.
 
Eugene Peterson lived his life as an agent of transformation. His storied career — the whole story — has the power to change us still. If we have ears to hear.
 
Jonathan Merritt is a contributing writer for the Atlantic and contributing editor for the Week. He is author of several books, including “Learning to Speak God From Scratch,” which was published in August.
 

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

  • Worry

    Do we trust God to take care of each and every one of our troubles, or do we act like Read More
  • The Beauty of God

    Apocalyptic and the Beauty of God Isaiah 65. 17-25; Revelation 21.9-27 a sermon at Harvard Memorial Church, October 22 2006 Read More
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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Healing Words From A Dialogue With God by Sylvia Gunter +

    ... Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to Read More
  • Fast Of Words - A Different Kind Of Fast by Sylvia Gunter +

    Isaiah 58:10b-12 Time and again God brings me to my knees over my heart attitude expressed out of my mouth. Read More
  • The power of words +

    Our words have the power to bless or curse, to influence for good or for bad. Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Easter: transforming how we relate to others +

    As we prepare for Easter, let’s prayerfully consider some questions regarding John 17. Read More
  • Jesus as the cultivator of our heart +

    Day after day our heart experiences dozens and hundreds of interactions: with others, with news stories,  with our thoughts, or Read More
  • Sing to the Lord: Thinking about to praise God each day with songs from our hearts +

    One of the overriding themes throughout scripture is praising God regardless of our circumstances. Read More
  • A focus on blessing others +

    We are called to be a blessing to the world first to those around us. Read More
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