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Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work Paperback – Oct 22 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Wm.B. Eerdman's Publishing; Reprint edition (Oct. 22 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802806600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802806604
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #78,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harold Berciunas on May 29 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 8 2004
Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson does not call us to practical ministry. He offers much more, a pastoral theology. In this particular volume he digs into several Old Teatament texts and encourages pastors to engage the work of Prayer-Directing, Story-Making, Pain-Sharing, Nay-Saying, and Community-Building. These themes have the capability of reigniting that inner passion for ministry and restoring that God-given youthful vision to the pastor who has become worn down from trying to run the church as a business. This book should be in the library of every pastor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An unusual foray into the last 5 books added to the OT canon, with pastoral applications. While not traditionally thought of as being pastoral and perhaps a theological stretch for some, the practical is still with warrant for ministers here. Peterson is always insightful, poignant, and interesting, able to address current church leadership issues head-on without too much denominational offense. A bit academic at times, yet easily readable for any minister.
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By Diane juckes on Sept. 24 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
love the book. inspirational author, always provides insight.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Excellent resource for preaching and community May 29 2000
By Harold Berciunas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Not Ministry As Usual March 8 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson does not call us to practical ministry. He offers much more, a pastoral theology. In this particular volume he digs into several Old Teatament texts and encourages pastors to engage the work of Prayer-Directing, Story-Making, Pain-Sharing, Nay-Saying, and Community-Building. These themes have the capability of reigniting that inner passion for ministry and restoring that God-given youthful vision to the pastor who has become worn down from trying to run the church as a business. This book should be in the library of every pastor.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Pastoral tour through the Megilloth Dec 27 2006
By John Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that the various chapters are a pastoral tour through the Megilloth, the five short books that are read at five of the Jewish annual religious observances.

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).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Clever but helpful Oct. 18 2009
By John Dekker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eugene Peterson is a man with immense wisdom and experience in pastoral matters. In this book, he passes on a portion of this in an engaging and thoughtful way. There is much in this book that is helpful to ministers, even though Peterson's practical advice is not matched in quality by his biblical exegesis.

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. This is of tremendous significance to pastors, for just as Lamentations was written in response to a real historical event, so the wise pastor seeks to direct his parishioners to connect their grief and anger to their actual circumstances. Grace operates in the realm of the historical, and so, says Peterson, "If suffering is severed from historical data, it diffuses, filling up the room like gas" (p. 125).

Peterson also makes much of the fact that in the book of Esther, Mordecai is called merely, "the Jew." He works behind the scenes in near anonymity. In the same way, "Pastors need to repudiate as models... persons who are promotional and glamorous" (p. 227). This advice sorely needs to be heeded by many in the wider church today.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Bible, not the behavioral sciences, is the basis for pastoral ministry Nov. 12 2011
By Francis Kyle, Uncommon Christian Ministries - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the first of his several books on pastoral ministry, Peterson encourages pastors to return to the "old resource," the Bible, as the sole authoritative source for the task. Instead of looking to the latest ministry fad or to modern-day behavioral sciences such as psychology and sociology, the Bible should be the basis or "foundation stone" (page 239) for all of pastoral ministry. In support of his argument, Peterson gives concrete evidence of how five particular books of the Bible have a definite pastoral tone to them.

Instead of using the Pastoral Epistles or other more obvious pastoral-themed books of the New Testament, Peterson instead uses five Old Testament books to prove his point. The five "gem stones" (239) he uses are the "more modest materials" (14) known as the Megilloth, the five scrolls in the Hebrew Bible that Jews and Christians recognize as Song of Songs/Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. Since the 8th or 9th-century A.D., or even as far back as the Second Temple period (516 B.C.-70 A.D.), one of these books were read at a particular and annual Jewish act of corporate worship. According to Peterson, each book contained a certain pastoral theme whereby a historical event gave a contemporary meaning (14-17).

While readily admitting that these five, less prominent Old Testament writings are not "cornerstones" for pastoral work, Peterson argues that they are not "inconsequential pebbles" either. The books, which cover a "remarkable amount" (but not everything) of what a pastor does, are "substantial and useful as foundation stones under pastoral work," and therefore, "are highly serviceable for pastoral use" (17).

Because of Peterson's stress on community, authenticity, and the authority and sufficiency of the Bible in pastoral ministry, his book is of great value to North American pastors. Peterson's emphasis on community is so refreshing in such a North American culture as ours whereby the individual is stressed over the community. As Peterson states, "Community ('common') worship is the biblical setting for pastoral work. . . . Pastoral work has no identity in and of itself. It is a derivative work, and worship is that from which it is derived" (18). Elsewhere he states, "Any pastoral act that is severed from the common worship slowly but certainly loses its biblical character" (19).

In addition to community, personal and corporate authenticity is another emphasis that I appreciated about the book. That a pastor and his congregants must seek to be the same godly people Monday to Saturday as they seek to be at Sunday morning worship is a tactfully stated exhortation to both parties to flee duplicity, hypocrisy and fakery in their relationship with the all-seeing and all-knowing God. Associated closely with his stress on authenticity is Peterson's stress on the everyday, ordinariness of the Christian life and pastoral ministry. "Pastoral work is that aspect of Christian ministry which specializes in the ordinary" (1).

The third aspect that I appreciated about "Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work" is Peterson's strong conviction that the Bible, and not the behavioral sciences or the latest fad, is to be the sole source of ultimate authority and sufficiency for pastoral ministry. One would think that the Megilloth is not very pastoral when compared to, say, the New Testament's Pastoral Epistles. But Peterson convincingly proves by his insights from the Megilloth that all 66 books of God's Word possess a pastoral tone; one just needs to look a little closer for it with some books.

In addition to its Scripture-filled content and almost commentary-like and devotional quality, the book has the added bonus of being written by a master wordsmith who is a true "pastor to pastors."


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