Eugene Peterson is about as mystical as Presbyterians get. He is a great example of a 21st century contemplative. Over the last few weeks I have been studying the use of Revelation in preaching and the pastoral vocation. Peterson devotes an entire chapter in The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction to the topic.
Peterson quickly identifies the role of apocalyptic as an adjective of the pastor. Insisting on the realities of the kingdom against the realities of the world is part of the task of the pastor. They are there to remind us of our exact station. Too often, the church acts like Israel, waiting for the promised Messiah. The Christian life lives in the expectation birthed by the resurrection.
Below are the three broad strokes that Peterson takes describing the apocalyptic pastor.
1. Apocalyptic Prayer-
Prayer is the pivotal action in the Christian community. In his task of being a pastor, John situates himself in prayer through the whole book. At the beginning and end of Revelation, John is in a posture of worship. Living on the boundary between Rome and the Kingdom, prayer connects the Christian life. Prayer is a formal, awesome activity. Pastors pray to bring people into the presence of God. Prayer is the true reality of a Christian
2. Apocalyptic Poet-
John is playful in Revelation, because he shapes a new reality for the reader. This is translation, not memorization. The creative task of the pastor is to shape the praying imagination of his people, therefore poetry must be used. Poetry is original speech, bringing things into being. Words make truth.
3. Apocalyptic Patience-
We want things quickly. The apocalyptic community is patient because it dwells in holy wedlock with Christ. It develops us into the true people of God. Apocalypse is urgent without being hurried. Patience is needed to enter into the "subtle and glorious poem vision". It takes patience to unlearn our hurried life and abide in the "deep time" of God.
If you are familiar with Peterson, you understand that he constantly promotes a John 15 approach to Christianity, bed rocked in a constant and on-going relationship. This quick chapter is just another step in his dance.
Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall ever be, world without end.