As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson – Book Review

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As Kingfishers Catch Fire – A Conversation On The Ways Of God Formed By The Words Of God by Eugene H. Peterson

It’s not often that one becomes “giddy” when discovering a book of sermons – a book on Christian living – a book of insights into the heart, mind and soul of a retired pastor, a prolific author and a poetic preacher – but giddy is the word that best describes the excitement I felt when I learned about Eugene H. Peterson’s new book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation On The Ways Of God Formed By The Words Of God.

For those who do not immediately recognize his name, Peterson is the scholarly pastor who was inspired to pen The Message – a contemporary, dynamic Bible translation – after sensing that the adults in his Bible study class “weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek”.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire provides a context for The Message by shining a light into the heart and ministry of the man behind the translation. We learn how Peterson’s life was shaped by his 29 years of pastoral ministry at Christ Our King – a Presbyterian church he founded in Bel Air, Maryland in 1963.

Peterson shares how his congregation’s initial reception to his biblical teaching was not nearly as enthusiastic as he hoped – and how a Swiss physician (Paul Tournier) and a long-dead poet (Gerard Manley Hopkins) were influential in reshaping the direction of his ministry.

Message-Canvas-Bible--2-Page-Spread2L-Create-With-JoyAn Illustration from The Message Canvas Bible – Translated by Eugene Peterson

At the heart of As Kingfishers Catch Fire are 49 of Peterson’s sermons – “kingfisher sermons”, he calls them – identified in 7 groupings under the names of Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John of Patmos. These sermons, Peterson says, identify a distinctive approach that needs to be included in “the whole counsel of God”.

Peterson is an eloquent and powerful writer whose words you will want to highlight, underline, meditate and reflect upon, read over and over, and share with others as he leads you to fresh insights about God, the Bible, and the Christian life.

Speaking of the Christian life, Peterson writes:

The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence – congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence between the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is poetic, life-changing and profound – a book you’ll want to keep and a book you’ll want to share with those you love.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you!

Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Trailer – As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

Peterson: In Between The Man And The Message (Video)

About Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson

Eugene H. Peterson is the translator of the best-selling The Message Bible and the author of over thirty spiritual classics such as A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. He and his wife, Jan, live in Montana.


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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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12 Responses to “As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson – Book Review”

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  1. I took Peterson’s book on vacation with me.
    Be still my heart!
    What an amazing collection of truth! Thanks for your thoughts on it. It’s fun to share books with friends!

    • Create With Joy
      Twitter: CreateWithJoy1

      I’m SO excited to hear that you are reading this book (hope you are enjoying your vacation!) and can’t wait to hear your thoughts (be sure to leave a comment when you link up so I don’t miss your review!)

      I think you’re going to really love it!

      On a sidenote: I recognized the title as a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem when I first saw the book so I’ve been reading up on that as well – fascinating! I have a book from Plough Publishers entitled “The Gospel In Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selections From His Poems, Letters, Journals, and Spiritual Writings” that might also interest you if you are also interested in a side exploration into the life and writings of the man who influenced Eugene Peterson!

  2. Kay G. says:

    Thank you very much for this review! I love The Message Bible myself, I know I would love this book of sermons. Thanks for telling me about it!

  3. Helene says:

    I have read a half dozen of Peterson’s books! Can’t wait to get this one!

  4. Great review! Wow, this sounds like a book I would love to read too!

  5. BettieG says:

    Thank you for sharing this review! This book, and the book you mentioned above about Gerald Manley Hopkins, sound fascinating. I hope that I will be able to read them soon. -Blessings to you!

  6. Connie says:

    Thank you for sharing this review, I may need to find it and read it. Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays hope to see you next week.

  7. I loved reading thus review. And this makes me want to re-read it. So sad that there will be no more work from Eugene in this life.

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