When Jesus spoke to his disciples or crowds of people during his short earthly life, he liked to use stories to make a point. These stories are known as parables. Some of the more well-known stories are those about the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, and the lost son. Dayton visual artist/writer Helen Moss decided to study these stories during the Lenten season in 2011.
“People usually give up something for Lent, and I decided that instead of giving up something, I would try to gain something,” Moss said. “I decided to concentrate on parables of Jesus and explore them for personal growth.”
Those 40 days of Lent turned into several months of study and writing and culminated in her first book, “What Does Jesus Ask Us to Do? The Parables of Jesus as a Guide to Daily Living,” published by Xlibris Corp.
The book includes 22 parables, separated into distinct chapters. In one of those chapters she examines the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30. In the Bible story, talents equate to sums of money. But for Moss, talents relate to those gifts and abilities that everyone has to a certain extent.
“The Parable of the Talents speaks to me the most. You’re given a gift and you may not recognize it or give it validity,” said Moss. “But my dad told me that if you’ve been blessed with a talent, then you should use it. The satisfaction comes from using what God has given you.”
Moss took all she had learned about the parables and turned it into a small, 60-page devotional.
“What better way to strengthen my spiritual relationship with Jesus than to read and study the words of our lord? said Moss. “I decided that I would share this reflective commentary with others by chronicling my interpretation of the parables and related scripture passages.”
The original cover art was provided by Moss herself. It is the red section of a vibrant triptych collage. There is also a yellow and blue work. Moss attends St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Trotwood with her husband, Khalid. They’ve been members there for almost 10 years.
“I love the church for its contemplative services. It’s a weekly regimen and serene atmosphere you can count on,” said Moss, who’s worked as the marketing/community relations representative at DCDC, a receptionist at the University of Dayton, and a community outreach coordinator at the Dayton Art Institute.
Speaking of gifts, her husband, Khalid, is a gifted jazz musician who plays the piano. He is also a former Dayton Daily News reporter.
“We all have different gifts and talents. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we need to be there for each other,” said Moss, who consigns ‘read bags’ at Gallery 510 made from recycled New York Times pages. “If you sit back and quietly listen to what is going on around you, you can take something good away from it.”
Her husband has needed to be there for her a lot more lately. In 1984, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease has progressed to the point where she uses a wheelchair to get around. But that didn’t stop her from writing the book.
“A lot of time books are scholarly and written from a theologian’s point of view,” said Moss. “Some people are intimidated by the Bible; I wanted to write a book that everyone could relate to.”
For instance, in the first chapter Moss gets right down to why the parables are important:
“All of the parables have a common thread; each illustrates the importance of faith in Jesus Christ manifested in the character’s relationship with others. Jesus used the parables to teach the listener important lessons based on the tenets of the Ten Commandments, as well as the foundational directive to treat others as you want to be treated.”
The book is a combination of commentary and devotional materials about the parables, with a call to action that ends with a brief prayer.
HOW TO BUY
“What Does Jesus Ask Us to Do? The Parables of Jesus as a Guide to Daily Living,” by Helen Moss, is published by Xlibris Corp.
The book is divided into 23 chapters and is available online at amazon.com, books.google.com. It is priced at $24.99 for hardcover and $15.99 for paperback.
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