Cover Image: Lights a Lovely Mile

Lights a Lovely Mile

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Lights a Lovely Mile is a collection of Eugene Peterson’s seasonal sermons, released posthumously as a series of short essays. As I began reading, I realized right away how much I had missed hearing from Eugene!

Of course, the short form of this approach gives it a very different feel from his other books. His thinking is as sharp as ever. His language is fresh, and his biblical roots are deep, but in this verbal format, there isn’t the opportunity to develop his thoughts as thoroughly as he could in print.

The reader is given insight into what it was like to sit under the preaching ministry of Eugene Peterson over his years pastoring Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. The collection includes sermons for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time, capturing the rhythm of the church year. Read seasonally and devotionally, it’s an invitation to sync our hearts with the story of redemption in its flow through scripture and through the living of our days.

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I'm loving this series of books that Waterbrook have published of Eugene's sermon summaries. For those of us who never had the good fortune to listen to his sermons, these serve as a wonderful small touch of Eugene's pastoral words from the pulpit.

This book follows the church calendar including sections for Advent, Epiphany, Lent and during the Ordinary months of the year. Each chapter reflects one message, typically based around a Bible verse or two. I take away points from every message to reflect upon and meditate with the Lord. Each chapter averages 4 to 6 pages I guess. Eugene has a way with words and the stories he tells that make his messages very relatable and stir the reader to explore deeper with the Lord.

I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the 'series' and would encourage people who know of Eugene's works to check them out.

I feel very blessed to have received an early ebook copy of the book from the publisher via Net Galley but this has no bearing on my review.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the e-arc. Fans of Peterson will love this and its a well curated collection charting the church year.

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The old-fashioned cover is deceptive. Within is collection that gives a broad and up-to-date look at a pastor's heart. For both leaders of congregations and those who appreciate reflective reading, Peterson offers a plunge into stories and shapes of scripture and the Christian calendar.

Peterson was a student of people, historical writings, and scripture, so his writings offer insights for practical life as well as theology. If your view of the Christian life has become stale, pick up a copy. You'll be prepared to be inspired by quotes from Christians of the past, observations by current scholars, and a man who loves the Bible.

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When was the last time you heard a good sermon? What is the purpose of the sermon? How do you preach through the Church year? In a title that tells us the way Eugene Peterson's sermons had done, we learn from the late master preacher, beloved pastor, and spiritual pilgrim, about how sermons can light a lovely mile for us. Culling from some of the best sermons preached at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church from his 29 years of service there, editor Paul Pastor has given us some collected sermons of the church year. Starting with Advent, which is also the start of a new Church Year, Peterson reminds us about the need to love our neighbour in the present even as we anticipate the second coming of Christ. Advent also symbolizes attentiveness and awareness of the presence of Christ in creation. At Christmas, we celebrate the "conclusion" which is the fulfillment of divine prophecy about the first coming. During the season of Epiphany, the focus shifts to being shaped in Christlikeness, in conjunction with the meditation on Jesus' ministry on earth. He urges us to trust in God's promise to make us new. Based on a growing relationship with Jesus, he urges us to be patient for sometimes the work of God is "slow, intricate, complex" but is also "sure." He also shows us how worship, love, and God's time shape life. He also gives a startling observation of how church-goers can sometimes prove to be careless stumbling blocks when they are petty or easily offended. Calling us to be runners who never stop believing in the goodness of God, he encourages us to help one another be more resilient in getting along well with one another. The Season of Lent prepares our hearts to crave holiness like a child wanting pure spiritual milk. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and focuses on the birth and growth of the Church. Key to the growth and sustenance of any Church community is the need for love. Finally, the long season of "Ordinary Time" continues with the meditations on the Christian life, covering diverse issues from Church to righteous living, warnings about idolatry, and exhortations to be the Christlike believers that we are called to be.

My Thoughts
Why should anyone read this book? I want to address three groups: The general audience, aspiring preachers, and fellow preachers. First the general audience. For some, a sermon is simply a Bible exposition exercise each Sunday. For others, it is an anticipation of revelation from the Word of God. In many churches, especially evangelical ones, sermon time is the highlight. I believe Church-goers in general need to learn how to listen to sermons. Just like reading a book, learning to listen to sermons is something that we all need to develop. Regardless of which preacher is at the pulpit, being good listeners mean keeping our finger on the texts being preached. This is a good discipline that keeps us anchored on the Word even as the preacher attempts to preach on it. There are preachers who do not stick to the texts, but that is not the case in this book of sermons. Peterson may meander with various literary devices, illustrations, and metaphors, but they eventually point us back to the text concerned. That is why reading this book is a delight.

Second, for aspiring preachers, it is good to learn from Peterson that there is no one technique or sole methodology when it comes to preaching. We can learn how to structure our sermons with the Word that follows the Church year. Like the natural seasons of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer, God has the Church year provides a helpful framework to focus on the identity and work of the Triune Godhead. Learn from Peterson that preparing a sermon is both an art as well as a science. Many seminaries prepare students to preach in a manner that is faithful to Scripture and beneficial for listeners. This places a huge task for any preacher. Schools might teach techniques and methodologies. However, the delivery is more often an art rather than a science. The late Eugene Peterson was a master of words and was blessed with artistry and creativity. After helming his home Church for many years, he has developed a beautiful way to connect with his audience and subsequently the readers of his many books. Students and aspiring preachers can learn much from this book.

Finally, for the seasoned preacher, let this book light a lovely mile for us that they will delight in running the second mile or more. Preaching is no easy task. Sometimes, good preparation does not necessarily lead to good delivery. My favourite chapter is "So Run," which has lots of encouragement for this group of people. He gives us valuable tips on Church work. Peterson, a pastor himself is well-versed in Church ministry and understands the struggles of what it means to serve in Church. Just like his book on Run with the Horses and the need to remember that the Church is not about solving problems but about cultivating faith in all, he urges us to be iron sharpening another fellow iron, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

This book is wonderful to read but also makes me miss Peterson.

Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, is the author of more than thirty books, including Every Step an Arrival, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, and other spiritual classics, such as Run with the Horses and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He earned a degree in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, a graduate degree in theology from New York Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in Semitic languages from John Hopkins University. He was the founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland where he and his wife, Jan, served for twenty-nine years. Peterson held the title of professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, British Columbia, from 1998 until his passing in 2018.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Waterbrook & Multnomah via NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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A book of seasonal sermons by Eugene Peterson. Most of the sermons are short, more homilies than the half hour sermons that I am used to. They make great devotionals for the seasons in question.
I started with Pentecost, since I was not in one of the seasons of the church calendar. Also included are sermons for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and ordinary times. Peterson has a natural faith that is not cluttered by politics or theological battles.
Highly recommended.

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I was given an ARC from WaterBrook & Multnomah all opinions are my own. Eugene Peterson has always been able to bring life and the bigger picture into perspective. This book will go through the seasons in the church year, but also emphasize the importance of why we have them. We have a limited time here on earth to share the good news. Paul explains how we are to follow Christ. The time to love our neighbors is now. It should form the way we live our lives from our relationships to our careers. Eugene's sermons are always intentional and well supported. He knows how to inspire intentional living and have continual reliance in Christ in good times not just in bad. I would recommend this book to anyone with questions about what the church is really about, not just listen to what media says. It is edifying and will bring some conviction, but overall peace knowing we know what the future holds. Thank you netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for allowing me an advanced copy to review

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