Skip to main content

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

The regular printing of sermons is something that was commonplace in Civil War days and in the early 20th century, but rarely do we now find sermons in printed form that are deep with wisdom and interesting also.  One notable exception to this truth is the new book of sermons entitled As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson, author of the Message.  While much is praised about Peterson’s work on ministry and spiritual theology, these edited sermons bring the best of his deep knowledge of Scripture and love of God to the foreground.  In fact, after reading the book one can imagine Eugene as a scholar and a poet, who fuses the loftiness of scholarship with the real needs of the people.

In writing about the relationship between Balaam and Balak in the OT, Peterson brings us to the fountain of humor.  He writes, “Hilarity is integral to Christian pilgrimage.  There is no question that being a Christian involves us in many sorrows, many struggles, sober hours of repentance and meditation.  But there isn’t the slightest suggestion in Scripture that grim resignation is characteristic of Christian character.” (47)  The Stoic stiff upper lip is not part of the life of the believer, but a firm resolve to see humor in many events.  The story of the talking donkey and the irony that when he spoke it was blessing and not curses, confounded his master who tasked him speaking curses.  Peterson gives us a reason to see hilarity in the Bible as a sign of God’s creative hand behind all things. 

After examining the powerful words given to Isaiah in the events surrounding Isaiah 6, Peterson brings us to face the impact of the word of God and listening to God’s word.  He writes, “God speaks to us.  The word of God is at the center of our worship.  God speaks to us in Scripture, in sermon, and in sacrament.  It is the same word each time.  Will we be God’s people and do his bidding?  Will we embrace his gifts and participate in his saving work?” (123)  We only find wholeness in our dialogue with the Lord.  I think it is also powerful that Eugene includes the sermon and the Sacrament, because God’s word is made visible in the elements of the Lord Supper, but also applied directly to us in the sermon.  God meets us and uses us as he speaks his word to us, often in command, promise, and blessing, even in questions.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Popular posts from this blog

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…