Charlatans and Advent

List of Things People Probably Aren’t Putting on Their List of Things They’d Like for Christmas

1. A book of sermons

List of Things People Should Be Putting on Their List of Things They’d Like for Christmas

1. A book of sermons

Well, not just any sermons. You could probably buy a copy of Jonathan Edward’s fiery writings and be so beat up by the Law by the time you’re finished that you’d take it back to Kohls and beg the cranky lady inching toward the break room to please, for the love of all that’s good, let you have that ugly sweater after all.

I’m talking Emmanuel Press’s God with Us, the book of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Sermons by Pastor David Petersen.

Short summary for the the fidgety among us who don’t bother to read articles to the end: READ THIS BOOK.

Well, now that we got that out of the way . . . I have a love/hate relationship with Advent. (You can read about our broken friendship here.) I don’t like that Advent makes me pull up the Church Year reins. I’m bad at waiting. My grandma had restless leg syndrome; I have let’s-hurry-up-and-get-a-move-onto-Christmas syndrome.

Pastor Petersen’s Advent sermons, however (and that one time he ordered me to just chill out with the Christmas obsession already), curb my impatience. And his Christmas sermons make me miss the Christmas vigils at Redeemer, where I learned that life is ordered around the Church Year and not the other way around.

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Pastor Petersen preached at our wedding. And that was an awesome sermon too.

So if you are slapping your own hand every time you get close to the closet with the Christmas decorations, check out this brief list of pros and cons to reading Pastor Petersen’s book.

Pros 

  • Pastor Petersen is a faithful pastor. When he preaches, he preaches Jesus. And when he preaches Jesus, you consider your Savior in a way you hadn’t the week earlier. “He has laid Himself not only into a manger surrounded by dung in the cold winter air but also onto the rough wood of a cross surrounded by liars and cheats, thieves and terrorists. He has loved us to the very end.”
  • He is also a good writer. Reading his sermons is like reading poetry.  They flow and move. They are substantive, but they are also elegant. “The dandelions are an example for you. They don’t notice how much they are hated. They know they are loved by God. They know that He delights in their beauty .  . . They are unashamed to be dandelions, and they make no attempt to be anything else.”
  • He knows his audience. Timid writers ramble. They use big words to cover up the fact that they’re wandering, trying to find a way to end a thought. But he knows where he’s headed because he knows who is listening. “There is a Christ. He has a body. In Him you are safe. His cross drives off death. His holy life and His holy sacrifice stand between you and hell. You are not the Christ, but thanks be to God, you don’t need to be. There is a Christ for you.”
  • He uses words like “charlatan” and “boorish” and quotes Robert Burns.
  • He cares for the conscience with nothing but Jesus. Read this book disappointed or sad, desperate or terrified, anxious or content, and you will receive comfort from the one who “loves you and is working in and on you. His will will be done. He will get His way. He will bring you home. He will accomplish that for which He was sent. He will die. He will rise. He will ascend. He will open heaven for you.”

Cons 

  • You may spend hours reading his other sermons on his church’s website.
  • You may decide you need to visit Redeemer during Holy Week next year.
  • You may spend an entire paycheck ordering copies for everyone in your family, your Bible study, your office, your carpool and the lady in line in front of you at Starbucks instagramming her peppermint mocha before it’s even Thanksgiving.

Pastor Petersen’s book is worth reading because it is a book about Jesus, and because it will, as Rev. Jason Braaten notes in the forward, “mold us into those who wait and watch for Christ: the one who came, who comes, and who is coming again.”
So go ahead. Don’t be a charlatan. Put it on your Christmas list. The dandelions and I . . . we both know you want to.

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7 thoughts on “Charlatans and Advent

  1. This post was just what I needed, already being sick of secular Christmas this year. When I buy this book — soon– I will set it next to the TV as a reminder to turn off the noise and read.

  2. Unfortunately, I already gave my list to my better half (Concordia Commentary, Galatians by Andrew Das). Next year, CC John 1-6 by William Weinrich, Two years CC Hebrews by John Kleinig. I am planning on rapturing after this is complete so I guess I’ll pick up a copy of Pr. Peterson’s book at Symposium (I know how much he loves three-year orders!)

  3. Week in and week out, Dave is simply the best sermon writer in the LCMS today. Every young pastor should spend hours reading his sermons to hear the most artful preaching of law and gospel.

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