This is no game or playful philosophy. It is war and it is deadly serious. Our preaching is an act of war. We preach Jesus first because that is the way the devil is defeated and the souls of men are won. – Pr. David Peterson in “Preaching Jesus First“
There is a great gem of a new book available from Emmanuel Press, a second book in a series of sermons by Pastor David Peterson of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The first “Thy Kingdom Come” used the seasons of Lent and Easter as the frame for a great set of sermons. This next volume “God with Us” contains sermons for each day of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. There are quite a few notable things, each of which on their own could be cause to buy this book and read it.
Listening and reading sermons from across the Lutheran church will leave you with the knowledge that good preachers are a blessing and bad preachers are a cursing. Pastor Peterson is a good preacher. Yes, it is great to listen to him from the pew (as I had the opportunity during my seminary days), but you can listen online as well. That said, sometimes the depth of what is said is missed in hearing and in our day and age the written manuscript says things that the ear doesn’t hear. His postil for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany is a good example of this. Should audio recordings of these sermons be found in the great archive at Redeemer-Fort Wayne, it would be wonderful, but for the quiet meditation of reading a text, these sermons are wonderful.
Pastor Peterson presents many texts which are not often preached upon, a unique blessing which hearkens back to Reformation times when church services not only meant the Lord’s Day, but also weekdays, festivals, and other occasions. The daily services at Redeemer during these seasons of the Church Year mean a lot of preaching on a lot of texts. There are sermons on Psalms, the Old Testament lessons, but also familiar texts like those we hear on Sundays and feasts like Christmas and Epiphany. These common texts which have inspired many sermons come to a new life as Pastor Peterson preaches in a way which reveals deep study, rich knowledge and devotion, but also with a keen sharpness on our present situation. He preaches with simplicity and accuracy, zeroing in on multiple things at once, the text, the hearer, and always upon Christ.
As a Lutheran preacher, it is expected to preach well, rightly distinguishing Law and Gospel. Pastor Peterson does this. His common call to “repent” is never generic, but always pointed with a sternness that leaves you unable to wiggle out on your own. The Law is in full force, and with a brevity that is common to the prophets of old. It accuses, it instructs. The Gospel similarly is not generic, but sweet and set to the text and occasion, fully applied and delivered to ears (eyes) that have heard (seen). There is a Luther-like simplicity and exactness to his preaching. There is more than enough for both new hearer and seasoned saint to listen and inwardly digest.
The sermons in this volume are eloquent without being ostentatious. They flow beautifully from page to eye and into the mind. They provide food for thought – whether you desire simple appetizers or the main course. That is one of the great things about this, each sermon is brief, easily readable in only a few minutes (hopefully allowing for much pondering afterwards or during). The brief nature of this preaching is not due to having little to say but to carefully saying a lot with only a few words.
I am very impressed with this book (as you can tell). It makes me want to preach better. It scares the hell out of me (in a very good way) how my preaching compares to this. This postil has several marks of a good one – 1. It faithfully preaches Law 2. It faithfully preaches Gospel 3. It makes me want to be a better preacher. It does these things not on a academic level, but on a very personal one – and that is good, for preaching is not an academic exercise, but one that is eminently personal.
Thank you Pastor Peterson for your fine preaching, the teaching that comes from it, and the encouragement to keep working on that art form which delivers things eternal. Thank you Emmanuel Press for publishing this work (and the previous volume as well).
Buy the book. Read it. Advent is approaching (less than three weeks away). This volume will help you hear Christ throughout Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. If you are a preacher let it encourage you on your task. If you are a hearer let it sharpen your hearing. If you are a sinner let it preach Christ to you.
The book’s Table of Contents
The book’s Scripture Index