Brief Reviews, VOLUME 10

Eugene Peterson – As Kingfishers Catch Fire [Review]

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”1601429673″ locale=”US” src=”https://englewoodreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/51wokPNjJOL-1.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]A Disciplined Eye
for the Hyper-Local

 
An Abridged Review of

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God
Eugene Peterson

Hardback: Waterbook, 2017
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Reviewed by David Swanson
 

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While reading through these sermons it is easy to imagine something about the women and men who comprised Peterson’s suburban congregation. The sentences and illustrations seem to hold in mind particular people with their very particular lives. In a sermon titled “Holy, Holy, Holy” from Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4, the pastor addresses his people gently:

Every Sunday I look across this congregation and wonder, prayerfully, what is going on. I know most of you pretty well. But there is a lot I don’t know. I am here every week with the conviction that this place of worship is the most important place you can be right now, that the scriptures, hymns, prayers, and sermon can enter into your souls, your lives, bringing you into a deeper participation in eternal life. (119)

For a preacher fond of quoting the essays of Wendell Berry, this sort of familiarity and reverence for the specific is not not especially surprising, though I’m hard-pressed to think of any well-known contemporary preachers who follow Peterson’s disciplined eye for the hyper-local.

We get a good idea of the sort of preacher Peterson was, one who really did believe that a person’s life would slowly bend toward God’s intentions as scripture did its formative work within the worshiping community. There is little cajoling or prodding from this preacher, although he regularly reminds his hearers of his responsibilities as their pastor. Chief among these is the obligation of waking people up to the Word of God. It seems that Peterson never lost his sense of wonder for the passages he preached weekly and we can imagine the congregation perking up to the excitement in his voice as he introduced and reintroduced them to people, places, and events whose import extended into their own lives.
 
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David Swanson is the pastor of New Community Covenant Church on the southside of Chicago. He blogs at DavidSwanson.wordpress.com

 

This is a brief clip of a review that appears in
our forthcoming Eastertide 2017 magazine issue…

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will mail next week.

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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