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Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work Paperback – October 22, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
In Five Smooth Stones, Peterson challanges us as pastors to lead our people through five somewhat obsure books of the Old Testament. These five books, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Ruth and Esther are wonderful tools for discovering some of the most important elements of Christian community.
In Song of Solomon, Peterson illuminates the challanges for us to seek intimacy in our personal relationships - but most of all intimacy with our God through prayer. In Lamentations, we are led to give validity to suffering. We are challenged to live out the full scope of suffering with each other in the midst of community, ultimatly being fully dependant upon the God who sustains us.
In Ecclesiastes, everything under the sun/Son is given meaning and time.
In Ruth, our commitments to community and to each other are emphasised. The power of going beyond what is required or expected are powerful tools that God uses to build true community, and even bring forth Messiah.
Esther is the call to community through taking risks for the sake of God's people, realizing that God would raise up another, if we choose not to not be a part of God's plan.
I have used this book as a primary resource for preaching these texts. As a pastor of a small rural church, and having worked in large suburban churches, I highly recomend this powerful resource to all who want to grow in spiritual depth and Christian community.
This book by its very nature necessitates an emphasis on practical pastoral application. The various books of the Megilloth are studied insofar as they contribute to this emphasis. The Song of Solomon directs our congregations in prayer and praise, Ruth reminds them that they are part of God's ongoing story, Lamentations speaks to them in their pain, Ecclesiastes speaks to a life of wisdom (in page 154 a late date is accepted for the writing of this book for which Solomon has no part), and Esther is said to speak to community-building.
Peterson still seems to have the same chip on his shoulder that was expressed in his book "Working the Angles." In his introduction he states his opinion that Christian writers of the 20th century have little to commend themselves in assisting in the development of the pastoral craft. One wonders if this lack of commendation also applies to his writings, or only to everyone else's. Once he enters the body of his subject, he succeeds in finding pastoral applications to the five books of the Megilloth. At the same time, he seems to take no pastoral responsibility for the growth of a church, instead claiming that "congregations are large when there is social approval to be part of a religious establishment, small when there is not" (Page 209). Perhaps he has not read Carl George's book.
This books succeeds in reminding us to use these and other books of the Bible in the work of shepherding; to always connect such study to the congregation. Or as Peterson puts it: "After the Bible, the church roll is the most important book in the pastor's study" (Page 48).
Sender did good job getting it out on time.
I was thrilled at the very idea of this book, but felt that it did not live up to its promise. Peterson examines the five "Megilloth" scrolls. These are Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther - all books in the Writings, the third section of the Hebrew canon. In his very readable introduction, Peterson compares pastoral work to constructing a building using stones already on the site. He notes that the Megilloth, though seemingly modest, were 'recycled' in this fashion, each being read annually at the five main acts of worship.
Peterson views Ecclesiastes and Songs of Songs as being in tension with the feasts on which they were read, while Lamentations and Esther were read in a context of commemorating the events referred to in those books. This suggests that Peterson may be forcing the issue in attempting to connect the five scrolls to their corresponding settings. We do not, in fact, know how the choice was made with some of the Megilloth, and Peterson is indulging in speculation.
Even though Peterson's methods of deducing practical lessons may be questionable, his pastoral wisdom is not. Clever as his analysis might be, the practical advice that can be garnered from Five Smooth Stones is superior to its exegesis. In his chapter on Lamentations, for example, Peterson argues that one's response to suffering must be anchored in the appropriate historical context.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Peterson provides wonderful insight into using the books of Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs as a basis for pastoral work.Published 12 months ago by Wendy J. Spille
Can't say enough about this book. The concept that pastoral work can take its cues from the perspective of 5 different books of the Old Testament. Each book forms a chapter. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Linda Grace
Eugene Peterson reaches back through Jewish history and provides a bridge for our contemporary times. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael W. Dugal
Perhaps not 'easy' reading, but very worthwhile. A great help for pastors and Christian workers who want to be used by the LordPublished 16 months ago by Peter Hanscamp
Peterson is truly a pastor's pastor. "Five Smooth Stones" helped me think through the work I do and how I go about it. Read morePublished on July 22, 2014 by Byron Fike