A Man Called Peter
Go back to Washington D.C. in the 1940's. Mention the name Peter Marshall. "Oh, the Scotsman!" "He loves to play games." "He's a great listener." "He's a very wise man." "He has a nice wife and cute son." "He came up from Atlanta." His friends ranged from the janitor to the senator, the Air Force pilot to the socialite. He appealed to everyone he met. And he was the minister of the New York Avenue Church, the church of persidents, including Lincoln 80 years earlier. He had a deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ and the salvation of God. He didn't hesitate to share his faith.
Peter Marshall lived more life in 46 years than most people do in 80. He was born in Scotland and emigrated to the United States in his 20's at the urging of a cousin. He knew he wanted to preach God's word. Yet when he first arrived in the United States, he could barely afford to keep himself in room and board. Peter wasn't deterred. He trusted in God's timing. He moved to Alabama and saw the promises of God begin to unfold. Eventually he was able to attend seminary school and earn his theology degree.
He was effective and loved in each of the churches he pastored. The last church was the New York Avenue Church. But by the end of his career, he had taken on another religious duty. He was the Chaplain of the Senate. By the time he died, instead of wandering in late, Senators and staffers made sure they were in the Senate room before prayer. Peter was able to present God's Word in a manner acceptable to the least religious. He was not a fake. He believed with his heart, and was the type of man who could share his belief.
This biography was written by his wife, Catherine Marshall, within a couple years after his death. She gives us with a very human man who loved God. She makes the reader feel Peter's presence. Her sentiments about her husband aren't hidden, but she still is able to present his life without an overlay of sentimentality.
According to her, Peter Marshall never felt he was worthy in himself. He was just the man passing on the message. But others felt differently. He preached two services each Sunday morning to standing room only crowds with more waiting outside. He would carry his chess board to the Capitol Building with him to play a game with one of the journalists.
I hadn't realized how young Peter Marshall was when he died. He made a large impact with his ministry. I knew that his death finished the book. Yes, I was crying when I closed the book after his story and turned off my light to go to bed. After five minutes I had to give up and get a Kleenex, or I wouldn't quit sniffling enough to get to sleep. After she finished her husband's story, Mrs. Marshall added some of his sermons and prayers at the end of the book. They are good reading. Too bad I couldn't hear them in the original Scots burr...
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