Recently I’ve gotten to know Rhoda Preston, my neighbor. Even though she has a lot on her platter, as you’ll see here, she always has a smile for me when she’s working at her desk, and she keeps her door open.
One commenter here will win a copy of Rhoda’s recently published non-fiction book about the Old Testament Minor Prophets, Playing In The Minor Leagues. The title alone makes me want to read this–and it would also make a good gift for someone interested in the scriptures.
The Rev. Dr. Rhoda Preston is a United Methodist pastor, author, and former preschool editor at the United Methodist Publishing House. Her most recent book, Playing in the Minor Leagues: A Look at the Minor Prophets, explores what the twelve Old Testament minor prophets (Hosea through Malachi) can teach us about the essential game of life. How did they address God’s major concerns for the world? How might their insights strike home with us today? Each prophet is presented in easy-to-understand fashion, placing each into historical context, providing in-depth commentary, and showing connections with New Testament Scriptures. Each chapter includes discussion questions for group study. Copies of the book are available on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle editions. Additional articles on the prophets can be found on her blog, rhodapreston.com, and on her Pinterest page at https://www.pinterest.com/rhodaepreston/playing-in-the-minor-leagues-minor-prophets/.
Several years ago, during the Christmas season—in celebration of the wise men who followed a star to Bethlehem–our congregation introduced the tradition of “Star Gifts.” A Star Gift is simply a paper star with a word written on it. During our worship service, ushers pass Star Gifts to the congregation using our traditional offering plates. Instead of placing something into the offering plate, everyone is invited to reach in and take a star.
“Don’t intentionally choose a star,” we’re told. “Just reach in and grab one. Consider the word on that star to be God’s gift to you for the coming year. Take the Star Gift home and hang it up where you are sure to see it every day. Each time you glance at the star, ponder the significance that word might have in your life, and how God might be speaking to you and guiding you through that word.”
Every star in the offering plate contains a different word. It might be imagination or strength, courage or forgiveness, honesty or flexibility, integrity, humor, humility, hopefulness, peace….
Since I serve as the pastor of two separate congregations, I received two Star Gifts this past year. One said “Listening.” The other said “Helping.” I took the stars to my office, posted them on my bulletin board, right next to my calendar. Each morning I pray: “Lord, in everything I do today, give me a listening heart and helping hands. For You are a God who listens and helps, and I want to follow You.”
Sometimes my schedule can get so busy, so hectic. And when folks stop by my office, I may seem pre-occupied. “I hate to bother you…” they’ll say. And that’s when I realize: it’s time to stop what I’m doing and give this person my full attention. It’s time to listen carefully, and to help as best I can. God doesn’t want me to treat people as interruptions. God has given me the gift of just enough time, and the ability to make a difference. And I am so grateful, Wise and Generous God, for that gift!
You can enjoy more of Rhoda’s writing at her blog, rhodapreston.com