A collection of sermons preached by the late pastor and author of The Message, Eugene Peterson, about the book of Revelation has been published, with more works expected to be released in the near future.
The book, titled The Hallelujah Banquet: How the End of What We Were Reveals Who We Can Be, was released in January by the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based publisher WaterBrook.
Material for the book was chiefly drawn from a sermon series Peterson preached in 1984 at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church of Bel Air, Maryland, a congregation he helped found.
Paul J. Pastor, editor of the book, said in comments emailed to The Christian Post on Thursday that “Peterson had long been a respected influence on me, and the chance to help further share his creative legacy was an honor.”
“I never had the chance to meet Eugene while he was alive, which I lament. But the process of spending so much time in his personal materials and manuscripts has given a unique sense of intimacy with his thought and work,” Pastor said.
Pastor, who also edited Peterson’s authorized biography, told CP that he found the experience of working on the book to be “very special,” adding that there was “a tenderness to Eugene’s work that makes it a nourishing joy to edit.”
“Working with his materials was entering a space of slow, deep meditation on the Scriptures and the Christian life. These materials nearly all were written before Eugene’s writing gained any sort of traction — he was simply the local pastor of a small congregation without anything particularly attention-grabbing about it,” he explained.
“And from that faithful simplicity came remarkably patient and hard-earned wisdom. His insights were rooted in a particular place, and in particular lives. Sitting with that simple wisdom can’t help but impact a person, and I have been impacted.”
Pastor said he expected that at least two more books of Peterson’s works would be released, as WaterBrook has access to a prolific archive of the late preacher’s writings.
“My hope is that these posthumous works will be seen as worthy of standing with the rest of his body of work as valuable and beautiful parts of his remarkable legacy,” Pastor said.
The last book of the Bible, Revelation focuses on the final judgment of mankind, describing future events with cryptic imagery whose meaning has been debated among countless clergy and laity.
According to the first sermon in the book, Peterson argues that, despite how many read Revelation, the Bible book “is not a disclosure of future events but the revelation of their inner meaning.”
“It does not tell us what events are going to take place and the dates of their occurrence; it tells us what the meaning of those events is,” stated Peterson, as noted in the book.
“The text gives us a summary of what lies behind the veil, behind the newspaper headlines, behind the expressionless mask of a new calendar.”
According to the editor’s note at the beginning of the book, the limited edits to Peterson’s sermons have included the correction of “minor errors” and the removal of “dated references” to things like technology and popular culture.
A prolific author known for his paraphrase of the Bible, titled, The Message, which is often mistakenly considered a translation, Peterson died in 2018 at 85.
“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,” stated Peterson’s family at the time, as quoted by NavPress, which published The Message.
“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.”
In November 2019, WaterBrook released A Month of Sundays: Thirty-One Days of Wrestling with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, a devotional featuring sermons and writings from Peterson.
Ingrid Beck, editor of A Month of Sundays, told CP in a 2019 interview that while Peterson “was not heavily involved in the early stages of manuscript development,” before he died, he accepted “the overall concept and title.”
“Once we settled on an overall direction, which was to create a collection of devotional readings anchored in the Gospels, we landed on the rough structure for this book by reading through Eugene’s sermon archives and identifying excerpts that aligned with this concept,” explained Beck at the time.
“Eugene’s work is consistently inspiring and filled with compelling insights for today’s Christians, and it is our sincere hope that A Month of Sundays will draw readers into a deeper understanding of what it means to live as a follower of Jesus.”
Helicopter crash: French billionaire and MP Olivier Dassault dies
French President Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to billionaire and conservative politician Olivier Dassault, 69, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, local time.
Mr Dassault was the eldest son of late French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose namesake Dassault Aviation builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.
“Olivier Dassault loved France,” Mr Macron said on Twitter.
“Captain of industry, lawmaker, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets. His sudden death is a great loss. Thoughts on his family and loved ones.”
The private helicopter crashed during the afternoon on Sunday in Normandy, where Mr Dassault had a holiday home, according to a police source.
The pilot was also killed.
A representative for the conservative Les Republicains party in France’s National Assembly since 2002, he represented the Oise area of northern France.
Mr Dassault was considered the 361st richest man in the world alongside his two brothers and sister, with wealth of about 6 billion euros ($9.29 billion) mostly inherited from his father, according to the 2020 Forbes rich list.
He stepped down from his role on the board of Dassault due to his political role to avoid any conflict of interest.
Mr Dassault, seen as the favourite of founder Marcel Dassault, was once considered favoured to succeed Serge Dassault at the head of the family holding, but that role went to former Dassault Aviation chief executive Charles Edelstenne.
“Great sadness at the news of the sudden passing of Olivier Dassault,” Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician who is president of the Paris region, said on Twitter.
“A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood, rooted in his department of Oise. My warm thoughts to his family.”
Pope Francis raises concerns over Christian safety
Pope Francis arrived in Baghdad on Friday for a three-day visit to Iraq, undeterred by suggestions that his trip might fuel a surge in coronavirus cases, undaunted by the precarious security situation and committed to offering support to a Christian community decimated by years of war.
It’s the first trip Francis has embarked on since the pandemic swept the world and the first time a head of the Roman Catholic Church has visited the country.
The journey promises to be as rich in symbolism as it is fraught with risk.
“I am happy to travel again,” the pope said, taking off his blue surgical mask to address reporters en route to Iraq. His Alitalia flight was accompanied by U.S. aircraft from the Ayn al Asad military base after entering Iraqi airspace.
By choosing Iraq as his first destination since the pandemic began, Francis waded directly into the issues of war and peace, and poverty and religious strife, in an ancient biblical land.
“This trip is emblematic,” he said, calling it “a duty to a land martyred for many years.”
He was welcomed by a small color guard and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
The pope left the airport complex in a black BMW, his window rolled down. He waved as he passed a small group of faithful waving Iraqi and Vatican flags behind a metal fence on the side of the highway.
The pope’s vehicle was surrounded by a police motorcycle escort as he drove past miles of concrete blast walls that were put up during Iraq’s sectarian violence.
After 2003, the road was one of the most dangerous in Baghdad, with frequent roadside bombs and suicide car bombs. Those are now in the past, and palm trees planted to beautify the road greet visitors.
As he arrived at the presidential palace, the pope’s car was flanked by members of Iraqi security forces on horseback. Francis emerged from that car, limping noticeably as he made his way along a red carpet.
The pope is known to suffer from sciatica, which he told reporters in 2013 was the worst thing that had happened to him in his early days as pope.
It was the start of what promised to be an arduous journey that will take the 84-year-old pontiff to battle-scarred churches and desert pilgrimage sites.
In an area known as the cradle of civilization, the modern history of Mesopotamia — now present-day Iraq — has been scarred by lasting hardship: three decades of despotic rule, followed by nearly two decades of war and a wave of carnage unleashed by the Islamic State.
Once a rich tapestry of faiths, Iraq has been hollowed out as orthodoxies hardened. Its Jews are almost completely gone, and its Christian community grows smaller every year. About one million have fled since the 2003 United States-led invasion. An estimated 500,000 remain.
That backdrop makes the pope’s visit on Saturday to the ancient city of Ur — traditionally held to be the birthplace of Abraham, who is revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians alike — all the more powerful.
To that end, his trip carries a motto from the Gospel of Matthew: “You are all brothers.”
But the pope’s agenda also casts a spotlight on the terrible toll wrought when divisions harden and violence takes over.
On Friday evening he met with priests, bishops and others at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Just over a decade ago, the church came under assault when attackers unleashed fusillade of grenades, bullets and suicide vests. At least 58 people were killed in the assault, which was carried out by an affiliate of Al Qaeda.
It was far from the deadliest massacre in the country, where tens of thousands of Muslims have died in war and sectarian fighting, but the attack tore at the heart of the Christian community.
An image of Francis is painted on the blast walls that now ring Our Lady of Salvation.
Francis made it clear that after Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI had to scuttle plans to visit the remaining Christians in the country, he would not cancel his own trip.
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