There are so many in my life I can say have been there as mentors to help shepherd me on to this calling of Word and Sacrament ministry. My grandparents became foundational to me. My dad handed to me the grace I often found missing in the church and in life. Martin Luther opened up for me the truth of Christ as the One who has embraced my sin in all its ugliness and handed me his righteousness like an ice cream cone to a 2 year old. Jim Nestingen, Steve Paulson, and David Fredrickson, in one way shape or form have formed me as a theologian that I may hand to my people the truth of the cross and its work for the sake of your justification. But Eugene Peterson in "The Contemplative Pastor" and "The Pastor" truly opened my mind to the work of a pastor. Living and dwelling in the Word and the work that entails in order that my teaching may be one of shepherding for sinners.
Recently this year I lost one person I revered, Anthony Bourdain. He helped me to truly see how one who has been broken can still struggle and yet enjoy God's creation and gifts each day. Now there is Eugene. Eugene Peterson will always be the one who truly was my Pastoral Care professor from a distance. We never agreed on everything, but his heart for the need of pastors to pursue the preciousness of Christ and the Word will always be in the forefront of my mind as I continue this work until I also fall asleep in Christ and await the resurrection as Eugene does now.
I was struck the other night by my age. You know you have advanced in years when the children of those you idolized as athletes when you were growing up are now the stars of the teams you follow. What it does do, more than anything is hand to you the very words we are reminded of on Ash Wednesday - You are dust. You will continue to grow older. You will become a cranky old bastard and yell at kids who come into your yard. You are going to become the generation bemoaning the sins of the next. You are going to die. What I learned from Eugene is the need to remember that one day Sabbath will come. One day the war against time will cease, and if you can hand that to your people, spending time contemplating the realities we fear, then you have done your duty.
Eternal rest grant him O Lord. Perpetual light shine upon him. For Eugene now rests in the promise of Christ having been given the keys to the Kingdom of the New Creation.