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As Kingfishers Catch Fire

A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God

Eugene H. Peterson

About As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Living Out the Word Made Flesh
 
“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Eugene Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.”
 
And so began Peterson’s journey to live and teach a life of congruencecongruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out that truth.
 
Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson’s teachings over his twenty-nine years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire offers a never-before-published collection of these teachings to anyone longing for a richer, truer spirituality.
 
Peterson’s strikingly beautiful prose and deeply grounded insights usher us into a new understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh. 

This is one man’s compelling quest to discover not only how to be a pastor but how to be a human being.

Praise

As Kingfishers Catch Fire covers it all, the A to Z of Christian spirituality. It is filled with the kind of wisdom that can only come from long obedience in the same direction! It’s more than a book; it’s a gift. Thank you, Eugene!”
—Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author of The Circle Maker and lead pastor of National Community Church, Washington, DC

“There is no one who has done more to shape my ‘pastoral imagination’ than Eugene Peterson. Now, through this extraordinary collection, we see how words become pastoral work. An exegete and a poet, Peterson opens up to us not only the text but its world, welcoming us to walk with Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. And as we do, we find ourselves keeping company with Jesus. Read it devotionally; read it as a study in sacred storytelling; read it to come alive along the Jesus Way.”
—Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor, New Life Church, Colorado Springs

“Eugene Peterson is brilliant and the gift he has given the church is huge. This is a man who has the mind of a scholar paired with the heart of a grace-filled pastor. The main thing is that he loves God’s word and that is so apparent in every word that he writes.”
—Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of "The Women of Easter" and Bad Girls of the Bible series

“I can hear Eugene Peterson’s warm and gravelly voice in each well-crafted chapter of As Kingfishers Catch Fire. I wish I could have been in a pew listening to the Word spoken for a particular time, place, and people, but reading this collection is the next best thing. Peterson’s attention to biblical texts, theological concerns, and earthy applications for real people are the same threads we find in his many books. Reading just the introduction to each section is time well spent, but I promise you won’t stop there.”
—Dan Baumgartner, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

"As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of 49 sermons Peterson first preached at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church during nearly 30 years of ministry there (1962–1991). The sermons are divided into seven groups, each grouped together with the formula, “Preaching in the Company of _____,” where the fill-in-the-blank is Moses (the Law), David (Psalms), Isaiah (the Prophets), Solomon (Wisdom literature), Peter (the Gospels), Paul (the Epistles), and John (the Johannine literature). Throughout, Peterson strives to "enter into the biblical company of prototypical preachers and work out of the traditions they had developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." The result is a master class in what Scripture says about the pastoral care of souls. Peterson eschews the notions that spirituality can be pursued apart from everyday life or that it can be sought without the company of others. Instead, as he writes in a characteristic passage:

"It is somewhat common among people who get interested in religion or God to get proportionately disinterested in their jobs and families, their communities and their colleagues. The more of God, the less of the human. But that is not the way God intends it. Wisdom [literature] counters this tendency by giving witness to the precious nature of human experience in all its forms, whether or not it feels or appears ‘spiritual’” (emphasis in original). This isn’t to deny that spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Scripture reading, and corporate worship are vital. But, Peterson is saying, unless those disciplines make us better workers, family members, neighbors and friends, we haven’t yet achieved the congruence of life to which Scripture bears witness: persons who act in God’s eye what in God’s eye we are, that is, “Christ who lives in [us]” (Gal. 2:20).

This is not a book I would recommend to some pastors. For example, if you’re looking for a book that gives you a fool-proof three-step process to ______ (whatever it is that you’re trying to do), skip this one. Or if you’re looking on Saturday night for a three-point sermon you can preach the next morning, don’t read this. Peterson’s sermons are ongoing conversations, not plug-and-play outlines. However, if you’re tossed about by the winds of the times or you’re tired of slapping Bible verses on business principles or if your ministry lacks congruence between the means of discipleship and the ends of Christlikeness, please read this book. It will feed your soul, and through you, the souls of your congregation. Then read it again."  
—George O. Wood, Influence Magazine

"Unlike many sermons that barely make it out of the pulpit, Peterson’s soar out and draw in throughout this fantastic book. His words, written for speaking, are sure, intimate, and trustworthy. Peterson (The Message) admits that preaching is a “corporate act” that requires a congregation in common worship. For 29 years, he preached at the church he founded, Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Md., and this anthology of sermons welcomes readers to join that company. He intends these 49 sermons, undated but for one, to be used in conjunction with communion. Following his gracefully instructive introductions to each chapter, Peterson preaches “in the company” of Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John of Patmos. What he says about Paul applies to him, too: he’s “totally at ease in this richly expansive narrative of God’s Word.” Peterson mixes storytelling with exegeses, the rare sermon (on Psalm 110) with the annual, history with geography, language lessons with a skosh of mathematics, and wisdom with wit—all in tuneful, God-fed language. 
—Publishers Weekly

"For nearly three decades, members of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Md., enjoyed a rare privilege. Week by week, they listened to wordsmith Eugene Peterson preach. Over his 29 years as the congregation’s founding pastor, those worshippers undoubtedly heard some of the most skillfully crafted sermons delivered in the past generation. In the process, they learned what God had to say to them as a specific group of Christ-followers in their unique context. Peterson has described the sermons as a collaborative effort—an ongoing conversation between the pastor and his people, as they collectively listened for a word from God.

Those of us who did not have the opportunity to hear the sermons delivered now have access to the next-best thing. As Kingfishers Catch Fire collects 49 sermons—seven each grouped under the names of Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John. By Peterson’s reckoning, each biblical personality offers a distinctive approach, and sermons preached in their company together help to constitute “the whole counsel of God.” The sermons span his three decades at the Maryland congregation, and glimmers of the congregation’s personality appear.
After all, Peterson consistently refused to accept God’s self-revelation simply as a set of high-flown propositions. Rather, he insisted on the Mystery of Incarnation—God taking on flesh and blood and moving into the neighborhood. And that means the church, the Body of Christ, likewise must live out its faith in the common day-to-day routines of the workplace, the home and the streets.

So, the sermons seem simultaneously directed to a specific congregation in Bel Air and universally applicable to all God’s people, wherever they live. And they do it with poetic sensitivity. Peterson writes: “Poetry is not the language of objective explanation but the language of imagination. It makes an image of reality in such a way as to invite our participation in it.”

As any reader of The Message translation of Scripture knows, Peterson has a love affair with well-chosen words. Few use language with the grace and skill he exhibits. At the same time, the sermons collected here make it clear Peterson’s preaching was not mere performance art. Instead, they grew out of a pastoral sensitivity to the people in the pews. The book takes its title from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which Peterson reads as a series of metaphors about congruence. The poem describes the rightness and wholeness found when what one is and what one does are seamless. This collection of sermons by pastor-poet Peterson has that sense of congruence."
—The Baptist Standard

About Eugene H. Peterson

Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, British Columbia, and the author of more than thirty books. He earned his master’s degree in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds several honorary doctoral degrees. In 1962, Peterson was the founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for twenty-nine years before retiring in 1991. He and his wife, Jan, live in Montana.

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Product Details

400 pages | Published by WaterBrook

On Sale Date: May 16, 2017

Trim Size: 6 x 9

Carton Quantity: 12

Sneak Peek

Click Here to download the first chapter of As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene H. Peterson 

About As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Living Out the Word Made Flesh   “Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Eugene Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.”And so began Peterson’s journey to live and teach a life of congruencecongruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out that truth. Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson’s teachings over his twenty-nine years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire offers a never-before-published collection of these teachings to anyone longing for a richer, truer spirituality. Peterson’s strikingly beautiful prose and deeply grounded insights usher us into a new understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh. This is one man’s compelling quest to discover not only how to be a pastor but how to be a human being.

Press Release

For Immediate Release
WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Brett Benson, Senior Publicist
719-264-5661 / bbenson@penguinrandomhouse.com  

The Definitive Collection of Teachings on the Christian Life from Eugene H. Peterson--

One of the World’s Most Respected and Influential Pastors & Biblical Scholars
 
As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God 
Formed by the Words of God by Eugene H. Peterson

“Unlike many sermons that barely make it out of the pulpit, Peterson’s soar out and draw in throughout this fantastic book. His words, written for speaking, are sure, intimate, and trustworthy.” –Publishers Weekly
 
“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Eugene H. Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.” And so began Peterson’s journey to live and teach a life of congruence—congruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out these life-giving truths.
 
Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson’s teachings over his 29 years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God (WaterBrook, May 16, 2017) is a never-before-published collection of teachings which will be appreciated by anyone longing for a richer, more authentic spirituality.
 
Peterson, best known as the translator of The Message Bible, is a biblical scholar who has written more than 30 spiritual classics selling over 20 million copies.
 
His strikingly beautiful prose—coupled with his warm, inviting style and deeply grounded insights—will usher readers into a fresh understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh.
 
The 49 messages in As Kingfishers Catch Fire were crafted for his congregation in Bel Air, Maryland, which he pastored for 29 years. With the exception of a few minor editorial touches, these classic teachings are presented in their original form so readers will find historical references such as the moon landing.
 
The messages cover a wide variety of topics, from Genesis (“Friend of God”/Abraham), to the Psalms
(“I AM the Good Shepherd”) to Revelation (“The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”)
 
This collection of teachings is a must-read for those interested in foundational messages from the definitive voice for Christian spirituality today.  

Praise for As Kingfishers Catch Fire:
As Kingfishers Catch Fire covers it all, the A to Z of Christian spirituality. It is filled with the kind of wisdom that can only come from long obedience in the same direction! It’s more than a book; it’s a gift. Thank you, Eugene!”
Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author of The Circle Maker and lead pastor of National Community Church, Washington, DC

“There is no one who has done more to shape my ‘pastoral imagination’ than Eugene Peterson. Now, through this extraordinary collection, we see how words become pastoral work. An exegete and a poet, Peterson opens up to us not only the text but its world, welcoming us to walk with Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. And as we do, we find ourselves keeping company with Jesus. Read it devotionally; read it as a study in sacred storytelling; read it to come alive along the Jesus Way.”
Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor, New Life Church, Colorado Springs

“Eugene Peterson is brilliant and the gift he has given the church is huge. This is a man who has the mind of a scholar paired with the heart of a grace-filled pastor. The main thing is that he loves God’s word and that is so apparent in every word that he writes.”
Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of The Women of Easter & Bad Girls of the Bible series

“I can hear Eugene Peterson’s warm and gravelly voice in each well-crafted chapter of As Kingfishers Catch Fire. I wish I could have been in a pew listening to the Word spoken for a particular time, place, and people, but reading this collection is the next best thing. Peterson’s attention to biblical texts, theological concerns, and earthy applications for real people are the same threads we find in his many books. Reading just the introduction to each section is time well spent, but I promise you won’t stop there.”
Dan Baumgartner, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood
 
“In the last years, Eugene’s writing has kept me sane.” Bono, U2
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eugene H. Peterson, a translator of The Message Bible (17 million sold), is professor emeritus of Spiritual Theology of Regent College, British Columbia, and the author of over 30 spiritual classics (20 million sold) including A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and Leap Over a Wall. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, his S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Semitic Languages from John Hopkins University. He also holds several honorary doctoral degrees.  In 1962, Peterson was founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bel Air, Maryland, where he served for 29 years before retiring in 1991. He and his wife, Jan, live in Montana. 

Religion/Christian Life/Spiritual Growth
ISBN 978-1-60142-967-4 ● Hardcover ● 400 Pages ● $24.99 U.S./$33.99 Canada
eBook ISBN 9781601429681 ● $12.99 U.S./$17.99 Canada

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Brett Benson

By Zach Barnhart

Many Evangelicals have been positively impacted by the work of Eugene Peterson. One of the Church's modern sages, Peterson is the author of many books that occupy the shelves of pastors, church leaders, and laypeople alike. His Bible translation, The Message, has been read and used by many. His writing ministry's influence is pretty much undeniable.As a reader of Peterson, though, I have always wondered what his preaching was like. I read...

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By Abigail Erlanson

"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame...Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells." In these words, 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins depicts the intended harmony between the identity and actions of each of God's creations. Similarly, in his book As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Eugene Peterson explores the harmony, or "congruence" as he terms it, between who a Christian is...

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By Margaret Memoli

The stunning watercolor cover of a man deep in thought captures so well what is laid out for us in the pages of this unusal devotional book. Eugene Peterson -- professor, theologian, pastor, author -- found himself struggling to bridge "the chasm that had developed between the way (he) was preaching from the pulpit and (his) deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor." And so he compiled this never-before-published...

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By Gerrit Geurs

The name Eugene Peterson is synonymous with The Message paraphrase Bible. When I hear the name, that was the first thing I automatically thought of. It is a work of modern theo-poetics. As much as I enjoyed reading through The Message, Peterson's newest book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, may have taken over the spot on my list for Peterson's most prominent work. After reading through all 372 pages, all I can say is, "Wow."In As Kingfishers...

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By Jay Robison

Eugene Peterson is a master with the English Language. This book is a pleasure to read. In As Kingfisher's Catch Fire Peterson offers a selection of sermons from his 30 plus years as a pastor. His sermons address a particular context which he helpfully explains throughout. There are highs and lows he dealt with in his ministry. Yet, I found myself shaking my head over and over because he was also speaking to my context as well. Peterson...

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