Eugene Peterson is my mentor's mentor, and has become mine as well. His insight and mastery at the art of crafting words makes all of his books easy, enjoyable and highly challanging resources for spiritual formation, especially for the pastor.
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.