This is our second week of our “giving thanks journey”
leading up to Thanksgiving.
Early Monday morning Eugene Peterson
went to be with the Lord.
He has blessed so many of us through his writings,
particularly his paraphrase of the Bible: The Message.
My friend Luci Shaw was close to Peterson, and
shared this from his family last Monday:
From the Peterson family update this morning:
“The lantern that has been burning brightly on the shore of Flathead Lake all last week—a sentinel witness to the life-light of Eugene H. Peterson—was extinguished today at 6:30 am Mountain Time soon after Eugene took his final breath and commended his spirit to Christ his creator, his beautiful savior, and the forever lover of his soul.
“During the previous days, it was apparent that he was navigating the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven. We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume were welcoming him into paradise. There may have even been a time or two when he accessed his Pentecostal roots and spoke in tongues as well. Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’
“It feels fitting that his death came on a Monday, the day of the week he always honored as a Sabbath during his years as a pastor. After a lifetime of faithful service to the church—running the race with gusto—it is reassuring to know that Eugene has now entered into the fullness of the Kingdom of God and has been embraced by eternal Sabbath.”
And this is Philip Yancey’s tribute:
Sunday: (Day 7)
1. What stands out to you from Peterson’s “parting scene” and why?
2. How does this lead you to give thanks to our great God?
3. If you had a meaningful parting scene with a loved one, share your thanks here.
Monday: A Heart of Gratitude (Day 8)
In this short interview with Peterson, you’ll see how he was aware of how God brought certain circumstances together to help him do his work in the world. Watch, contemplate, and comment.
4. What stands out to you from the above and why?
5. What circumstances did God bring together for Peterson to do The Message?
Contemplate on the following from The Message:
How well God must like you–
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to GOD’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.
You’re not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust–
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.
GOD charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.
6. Contemplate the above and answer:
A. How do you see the two factors that Peterson mentioned come together in the above paraphrase of Psalm 1?
B. Using Psalm 1, give thanks to God for something.
7. Think about the work God has allowed you to do to serve Him in this world. As a way of expressing thanks, how did He help you use it through His gifting of talents, circumstances, and mentors?
Tuesday-Wednesday: Hope and Gratitude = Joy! (Days 9 & 10)
Peterson’s life was characterized by joy, even in his death. I am sure that His hope and thankfulness for the promise of heaven played a part in that. My favorite passage on heaven is Isaiah 65, so I was eager to see how Peterson paraphrased this. Here are portions for you to contemplate and then, to give thanks to God for.
8. Contemplate, and then use the Word as a springboard for thanks.
“Pay close attention now:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
are things of the past, to be forgotten.
(Isaiah 65:17 MSG)
A. Comment and give thanks on the above.
Anticipate what I’m creating:
I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,
create my people as pure delight.
I’ll take joy in Jerusalem,
take delight in my people:
(Isaiah 65:18 MSG)
B. Comment and give thanks on the above.
No more sounds of weeping in the city,
no cries of anguish;
No more babies dying in the cradle,
or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime;
one – hundredth birthdays will be considered normal —
anything less will see like a cheat.
C. Comment and give thanks on the above. (When we studied this passage this last year, we learned that it isn’t that there will be death in heaven — but Isaiah was picturing a life without pain, sorrow, and death.)
For my people will be as long-lived as trees,
my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.
They won’t work and have nothing come of it,
they won’t have children snatched out from under them.
D. Comment and give thanks for what work will be like in the new heaven and the new earth.
Before they call out, I’ll answer.
Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard.
E. Comment and give thanks for what intimacy with the Lord will be like in the new heaven and the new earth.
Thursday-Friday: Bono and Peterson and Psalm 40 (Days 11-12)
9. Watch the above, take notes, and share what stood out to you and why.
Bono put Psalm 40 of The Message to music. Here it is:
10. Here is Psalm 40 from the Message divided for you. Contemplate and then give thanks to God.
1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
A. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.
B. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
so I can listen.
7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.
C. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
let the congregation know the whole story.
11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
will be booed and jeered without mercy.
16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
but God, don’t put it off.
D. Contemplate on the above and give thanks.
One thought to ponder. Many like to read through the Bible each year. Others like to go more slowly. Contemplate reading through The Message in 2019, or praying through the psalms, using The Message, or reading through The Prophets using The Message.
11. What is your take-a-way this week and why?