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Sacramental Preaching

Sermons on the Hidden Presence of Christ

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This primer on the ministry of preaching connects reading the Bible theologically with preparing and preaching sermons. Leading theologian Hans Boersma explains that exegesis involves looking beyond the historical and literal meaning of the text to the hidden sacramental reality of Christ himself, which enables us to reach the deepest meaning of the Scriptures. He provides models for theological sermons along with commentary on exegetical and homiletical method and offers guidance in placing the focus on Christ in all our reading of the Scriptures. Boersma also shows how patristic exegesis is relevant for reading the Bible today.

Sacramental Preaching will be of use to professors and students in homiletics and hermeneutics courses as well as pastors and seminarians. Readers interested in theology and theological interpretation will also appreciate this work.


Foreword by Eugene H. Peterson
1. Why Join the Chariot?
Acts 8:26-35
Part 1: Sensed Happiness
2. First Things First
Exodus 12:1-12
3. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry?
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 3:12-13, 22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7
4. Virgin Mother
Song of Solomon 4:16b-5:1a
5. The Blessing of a Child
Exodus 1:1-2:10
Part 2: Pilgrim Happiness
6. Out of Egypt
Matthew 2:13-21
7. Going Up the Hill
Psalm 24
8. God's Own Rest
Hebrews 3:7-4:13
Part 3: Heavenly Happiness
9. Happiness in Christ
Psalm 1
10. Resurrection Faithfulness
Luke 20:27-40
11. Perfect Blessing
Revelation 22:14
Part 4: Unveiled Happiness
12. The Gate of Heaven
Genesis 28:10-22
13. When the Heavens Open Up
Ezekiel 1
14. God of Change
2 Corinthians 3


"'Happiness and heaven are tied together' and the knot is Christ. This is the essential theme of this imaginative and theologically powerful book. This collection of sermons represents Boersma's mature theology. I highly recommend it to all pastors and laity. It is a treasure."

Stanley Hauerwas, professor emeritus of divinity and law, Duke Divinity School

"The growing body of literature on patristic exegesis and spiritual interpretation has reached a consensus: the modern modes of biblical interpretation, whether historical-critical or historical-grammatical, are inadequate. Which is to say, Sacramental Preaching is exactly what we need! Boersma's performed exegesis in fourteen sermons allows us to think through the challenges of interpretation by way of hands-on immersion. This book will be warmly received by the growing cohort of theology students and pastors who want to transcend the inherent limitations of academic biblical studies."

R. R. Reno, editor, First Things

"Finally, contemporary preaching that honors the church's Scriptures in their Christ-filled breadth and power! Boersma's deeply sensitive immersion in patristic faith and Bible reading, joined with his own living encounter with Christ in the Scriptures, has produced sermons that demonstrate the utter relevance of the church fathers' way of interpreting the Scripture. Treating texts from Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs to the Psalms and Ezekiel, to Hebrews and Revelation, these are rich, profound yet straightforward sermons. Neither antiquarian nor trendy, they direct and embody the listener's ascent through the sacramental text of Scripture to the person of the heavenly Christ. It is a beautiful and necessary journey for Christian disciples, preachers, and hermeneutical specialists all to take."

Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"This is a remarkable recovery of pre-modern preaching for a truncated, post-modern world, based on reception exegesis. With all the subtle skills of a patristic scholar, Boersma reunites us to 'the communion of the saints' by the fourfold reading of Scripture. This is not 'a collection of sermons' but a challenge to inspire deeper historical perspectives in pastoral preaching in an ahistorical culture."

James M. Houston, founding principal and professor emeritus of spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver

"Hans Boersma bridges from the church fathers to modern churchgoers with a sure hand and a well-lit vision. The fathers have something to teach us about sermons as a means of grace, and Boersma delivers their goods with great homiletical skill and wisdom. More, he has savvy aplenty for listeners today. Like a concert violinist's tone, Boersma's preaching has both core and sheen--in other words, real beauty. I find it inspiring."

Cornelius Plantinga Jr., president emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary; author of Reading for Preaching

"On Easter afternoon, the Risen Jesus, walking with dejected, not-yet-believing disciples, opens up the Scriptures, showing them how it all points to him. After he does his exegesis, they say, 'Were not our hearts burning within us?' Hans Boersma believes what Jesus claims and has experienced what those disciples experienced. Big time! In this book of powerfully engaging sermons, Hans demonstrates how we who want to preach Jesus and his gospel in our time can preach him from any and every text of the Bible. After reading these pages, you, like me, will know the joy of finding and proclaiming 'the more' that comes from the early church's sacramental understanding of all reality; that Christ is everywhere presented, and most especially in the text we read and preach on the Lord's Day. So life-giving!"

Darrell Johnson, teaching fellow, Regent College; director of the Centre for Preaching, Carey Theological College

The Author

  1. Hans Boersma

    Hans Boersma

    Hans Boersma (PhD, University of Utrecht) is Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Chair in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. He previously taught at Regent College, Vancouver. Boersma is the author of numerous critically...

    Continue reading about Hans Boersma


"With [Boersma's] expertise in the Church Fathers, the question he answers is, 'What do we do today with patristic modes of exegesis?' His answer is in the form of a compilation of fourteen sermons, which is admirable for avoiding purely theoretical discussions. . . . The Preacher's Notes following each sermon . . . hammer home the validity, the importance, and the centrality in Christian homiletical tradition of preaching Christ from the Old Testament. The result is a sometimes dense, but rewarding and inspirational model for preaching."

Geoffrey Stevenson,

Expository Times

"Boersma is as much at home with the writings of Thomas Aquinas as the sermons of George Herbert, the text of Gregory of Nyssa as that of Henri de Lubac, the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) as with The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994). . . . In our age when books are enjoyed on Kindle, this small volume of printed sermons is attractive in design and production--enticing to hold in hand. Pick it up for a good spiritual read."

Thomas A. Krosnicki, SVD,