Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulpit Review: For Children

Slikker-Vlahos, Cathy. A Snowman's Gift. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing, 2010. 40 Pages. Paper. $12.99. http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61663-142-0  (P)

Stiegemeyer, Julie. Illustrated by David Erickson. When Someone Dies: Find Comfort in Jesus. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 32 Pages. Hardback with Jacket. $13.99. http://www.cph.org/p-12954-when-someone-dies-find-comfort-in-jesus.aspx (P)

Writing fiction for children (or fact for that matter) may seem like the easiest thing in the world...until you try to do it.

Two recent books for young Christians are presented here for your consideration.

Courtesy: Amazon.com
The first is by Sheridan, WY author Cathy Slikker-Vlahos.
"God's Love Never Melts!!

Have you ever struggled with trying to explain God to your children or tried to tackle the concept of a God-in-three-persons Trinity? Author Cathy Slikker-Vlahos provides an entertaining take on these complicated concepts in her new book, A Snowman's Gift.

Come join Jenna and her mother as they roll and pack and tumble and smack some snow into a perfect snowman. Learn how the parts of the snowman-top, middle, and bottom-are like the three members of the Holy Trinity-God [the Father], Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Each piece plays an important role in the structure of the snowman, just as each member of the Trinity plays an important role in our lives.

A Snowman's Gift explains God in such a simple way that children and adults alike will find it enlightening, and the supporting scripture will provide peace to all who read it" (publisher's website).
A Snowman's Gift is a re-telling of a personal conversation between a Christian mother and her daughter. Mom uses terminology (principles, bad choices, etc.) that while true, may be at more at  home in some denominations more than others. Discerning parents can explain the book to their children easily. The art is complements the text well. It is colorful, playful, and fresh. I love that this author used the same Bible translation throughout. Additional Bible passages will help parents answer questions and inform their own understanding of the Trinity. Parents will also want to supplement these passages on the Trinity with others suggested by a faithful pastor. 

The author uses the analogy of the three large parts of a snowman to give a six-year-old a better understanding of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three-in-one and one-in-three. (Please note that an analogy is different from allegory.) Analogies, by definition, are imperfect explanations of something very complex. The Trinity is certainly beyond human explanation, but Scripture gives us what we need to know and believe.

In the past, Christians have used many other analogies: an egg, an apple, a shamrock, and even the three states of water. All analogies fail at some point, yet some are worth re-telling for the sake of the truth they convey.

The following diagram has always been a help to me in understanding what the Bible confesses about the Holy Trinity:

Pater = Father; Filius = Son; (the abbreviation at the bottom is Holy Spirit); 
est = is; non est = is not; Deus = God

For further growth in faith and knowledge of the Trinity, I recommend the Apostles' Creed and the explanation of that creed found in The Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther.

The second book has a more serious tone. Christ remains our comfort!

Grief is indeed "a jumble of feelings." Words come hard. What does one say?

Sometimes "being there" is one of the best things. Waiting until a moment is more appropriate to speak. David Erickson communicates will through his accompanying illustrations. His poignant paintings give the sense that "we've all been there." Look closely and you will see part of a painting of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. A pastor shares God's Word at a graveside. Those who mourn comfort one another. And Christ is there all along. 

(Take a second look at the cover art.)
"Have you ever lost a favorite toy or had to say good-bye to a friend who moved away? At times like that, we feel sad. But when someone we loved has died, we feel more than sadness. We feel grief.   
This gentle book suggests ways to understand and cope with grief. Respectful and honest, this book does not diminish feelings of grief in whatever form it takes. Instead, it encourages the reader to find comfort in Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and in His promise of an eternal home.
Covers topics including:
  • Being Sad
  • Being Lonely
  • Feeling Confused
  • Being Afraid
  • Feeling Angry
  • and more" (publisher's website)
We miss those we love. We mourn and weep because that love still exists. Our uniquely Christian comfort is that those who fall asleep in Christ will be with Christ and with one another. God's love in Christ never ends.

We are never closer to our loved ones than when the Lord gathers us with angels, archangels, and all the company of the saints in heaven for Divine Service. And then comes Resurrection Day!

We all need reminders that God loves us. We need reminders of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This pair of books will inform and comfort both children and those who read to them.

Cathy Slikker-Vlahos is a dedicated wife and mother of five. She loves sharing how wonderful God is with all shes meets. She lives in Wyoming with her husband, Ted, and her children.

Julie Stiegemeyer is a prolific author and has many titles available through Concordia Publishing House. She wrote her first book when she was in kindergarten. Stiegemeyer lives in Colorado. Visit her website: http://www.juliestiegemeyer.com/Welcome.html.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.