Scripture is always the central focus on Eugene Peterson’s writing. Practice Resurrection may be about the church and spiritual development, but it is about how the book of Ephesians talks about the church and spiritual development. Run with the Horses may be about excellence, but it is framed by looking at excellence through Jeremiah the prophet. The Contemplative Pastor may be about spiritual direction and the role of the pastor, but it is largely through the lens of the beatitudes and other scripture that he looks at the pastor’s role.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire is Peterson’s book on preaching. It isn’t that lay people won’t get something out of this, I certainly do not actively preach, but I think it was written for pastors. Non-pastors probably will read this more as a devotional book. But pastors should read this as a master class in how our preaching is to be about scripture first and most of all and how scripture points to God.
The seven sections, each with seven sermons, are all looking at how a particular biblical author communicates God to us through scripture. The sections are labeled, ‘Preaching in the company of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Solomon, or Peter, or Paul, or John of Patmos. If you have read some of his other books you can seem a few of the drafts of ideas that were worked out in his books that started in his sermons. And based on the illustrations and content of the sermons, these stretched widely throughout his preaching career, from early days with young children to the 50th anniversary of the church that he started.
One of Peterson’s books that I enjoyed browsing is his Take and Read, an annotated list of books that he has found helpful. Peterson’s wide ranging interests and his ability to reference popular and academic books, theology and fiction, poetry and prose is an example of how ideas and stories have seeped deeply into his life. He isn’t referencing the latest movie to show how cool he can be, although there were a few movies referenced, but the references were illustrations that made the point deeply in ways that were expanding, but also accessible to a congregation that is a normal congregation.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a book that I want to read again slowly. I listened to it on audiobook, which was good and well narrated. But I look forward to a second reading in print a few months from now so I can absorb again deeply crafted sermons that illustrate so well how scripture points to God.