Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Liturgy Review: The Church Year for Children

Curtis, Heath. Ordering Our Days in His Peace: An Introduction to the Christian Church Year. St. Louis: Concordia, 2009.  47 Pages. Cloth. $8.99. (L)

Continuing a trilogy begun by Scot Kinnamon in Worshiping with Angels and Archangels, (a trilogy yet to be concluded in Pam Nielsen's forthcoming book Behold the Lamb,) author Heath Curtis introduces his young readers to the Christian Church Year in Ordering our Days in His Peace.

"Present the life and work of Jesus and the Church through the times of the Church Year with Ordering Our Days in His Peace.

"The Church Year not only orders our days, it teaches us the fundamental narratives of salvation's story. Through simple language, striking artwork, Biblical and liturgical text, Ordering Our Days walks the reader through the three main sections of the church year: the Time of Christmas, the Time of Easter, and the Time of the Church. Each part of the Church Year has something new to offer and a new piece of the story to tell.

"A bulk quantity discount is available for this product. If purchasing 15 or more copies, the price is only $7.00 per book. Use order code 223103DAY to receive special pricing" (publisher's website).

Lutheran Christians love to do things "decently and in order." This new offering from CPH is an excellent companion to Lutheran Service Book, a great tool for parents, pastors, and Christian educators in teaching the next generation how Christians follow Jesus all year long.

The art on page 7 immediately reminded me of Concordia's new Church Year calendars. Order a set of five for your congregation.

The book finds its three-fold structure in the three "Times" of the Church Year, the Time of Christmas, including Advent, the Christmas Season, and the Epiphany Season, The Time of Easter, including Lent and the Easter Season through Ascension and Pentecost, and The Time of the Church, often called Sundays after Pentecost or Sundays after Trinity.

The colors and art in the book are striking and vibrant. Arthur Kirchhoff once again provides the illustrations. Edward Q. Luhmann provides striking calligraphy. Children respond well to color. And so do grown-ups! The traditional colors of the Church Year are a great way to teach children about Jesus, both who He is and what He has done. Blue and Violet communicate His royalty. Black, Red, Violet, and crimson denote suffering, pain, and martyrdom. White and gold tell the story of His holiness and victorious resurrection. Green calls to mind our growth in Him and His Word, ways, and will.

References to Christian hymns, canticles, and liturgy permeate the book. One will hear of the means of grace delivering the gifts of Christ's Good Friday cross and empty Easter tomb. This is a great Lutheran Christian book on the Church Year. It is intentionally an introduction, leading older readers to more comprehensive books on Liturgy, the Church Year, and perhaps service as a sacristan or on the altar guild.

Commemorations are mentioned during each part of the Church Year, special days when Christians thank the Lord for those who have died in Christ. On a saint's "heavenly birthday" (43) we can thank the Lord for His gifts and faithfulness to that individual, as well as learn how they followed Christ in faith and imitate them according to the vocations we hold in common with them.

A brief two page glossary concludes the volume.

The book is rich in Christian symbolism paving the way for its forthcoming companion book next March. I can't wait to see the final book in this trilogy. Ordering Our Days in His Peace from Concordia Publishing House would make a great gift this Christmas for a young person in your life.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.