Book of Jesus for Families

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A treasury of stories, poems, and songs about Jesus in a beautiful book for family devotions. The writings, by C. S. Lewis, Dickens, and more, help children identify with Jesus as a real person and not just a story. Includes The Night Jesus Was Born, The Coventry Carol, Child Jesus, Jesus in the Home of Friends, Jesus Loves Me, The Man Who Scratched, The Unsinkable Rock, Marionetta, The Great Commandment: Love One Another, The Lord's Prayer, The Wise Man Built His House, The Five Foolish Virgins, The Crucifixion,...
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Overview

A treasury of stories, poems, and songs about Jesus in a beautiful book for family devotions. The writings, by C. S. Lewis, Dickens, and more, help children identify with Jesus as a real person and not just a story. Includes The Night Jesus Was Born, The Coventry Carol, Child Jesus, Jesus in the Home of Friends, Jesus Loves Me, The Man Who Scratched, The Unsinkable Rock, Marionetta, The Great Commandment: Love One Another, The Lord's Prayer, The Wise Man Built His House, The Five Foolish Virgins, The Crucifixion, Ragman, The Resurrection, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, and many more.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This collection of stories, poetry, and hymns has Jesus' life as the central theme. The six sections include material on Jesus' birth and childhood, his friends, some miracles, some teachings, five parables, his death, and his resurrection. For the most part these are Bible stories retold, often in more informal or more elaborate language. Many Christian authors such as Mary Alice Jones, William Griffin, and Walter Wangerin are featured, along with Charles Dickens, Jim Bishop, and Pearl Buck. Much of Calvin Miller's poetry and prose predominates. Miller also contributes an introduction to each section and selection, a note to parents, and a message to children. The words to carols and hymns include "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella." "Away in a Manger," "The Coventry Carol," "Jesus Loves Me," and "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today." Formal paintings in color by a variety of artists illustrate the journey to Bethlehem, the magi, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus healing Jairus' daughter, among others. 2002, Bethany House,
— Patricia Dole
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764221712
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 6 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.78 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Read an Excerpt

When Jesus Was A Little Boy

Jesus was once a child just like you. And before he was a child he was a baby. There were things that happened to him while he was a baby that he could not remember when he got older. For instance, Jesus could not remember anything about being born. Can you remember the night you were born? Of course you can't. But your mother can. She will never forget that wonderful time. If you want to know anything about it, just ask her. She'll tell you in a minute. Well, maybe not in a minute. Mothers tend to go on and on about this sort of thing. She may even tell you more about it than you want to know. That's because it was a very special time to her.

Well, the same is true of Jesus. Mary could remember every last detail of that night. Perhaps that's why we have the story in the Bible. Mary remembered the night and then told it to people like Matthew and Luke, who wrote down the story of that wonderful night.

One thing for sure you can remember is your birthday. Even though you don't remember being born, you know you were. After all, you're here. Everybody who's here has been born. That's how all six billion people in the world got here. Every year you celebrate your getting here—your being born—on your birthday. You probably have even had a birthday party to celebrate the fact that you were one year older than you ever had been before.

Well, Jesus had birthdays, too! He still does. Every year at Christmas, Jesus is one year older than he's ever been before. Since he was born about two thousand years ago, he is now two thousand years old. Every December 25 the whole worldthrows a birthday party for Jesus. It's called Christmas. It's a wonderful party, isn't it? I'll bet you look forward to it every year. We sing a lot of songs about Jesus at Christmas. It wouldn't be all that wrong to sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Many children around the world do that on the very day that they put up their Christmas tree. It's a nice birthday sort of thing to do for the most widely celebrated birthday in the world.

But on the night that Jesus was born, Mary, his mother, never thought of putting up a tree and singing "Happy Birthday" to him. She was just glad her little Jesus had been born. It all happened in Bethlehem in a little village a long, long way from your hometown. His birth was quite different from yours. He wasn't born in a hospital with a lot of doctors and nurses standing around him. He was born in a stable with animals standing around him. You have to admit that everything about his birth was quite unusual. Maybe that's why it is so fascinating to us. Maybe that's why we never get tired of hearing about it.

* * *

Mary Tells About The Night JESUS Was Born

-Calvin Miller

Here is a story of some of the feelings Mary had during the time she waited for Jesus to be born. Some of this is imagined, so try yourself to think of how all these things might have happened. The point is to be very sure that Jesus really was born. And we really must believe the Bible story above all.

My name is Mary. You might have heard of my husband, Joseph. I'm sure you have heard of our little baby boy. His name is Jesus, and he's pretty famous now. But a long time before he became famous, he was just a little baby who was born like any other baby. Back then we had no idea how famous he would become.

Here's how the story starts.

One night a long time ago, I was sitting at home hoping that my boyfriend, Joseph, would come to see me. I loved Joseph, and we had even talked about getting married. My mother liked Joseph because he was so kind, and my father liked him because he was a carpenter and could do a lot of handyman stuff—like help fix our roof after big windstorms. I liked him because he was the best person I had ever met and because he always treated me so kindly when we walked home from synagogue together.

But on this particular night, for some reason Joseph didn't come.

Guess who did come? Gabriel.

Gabriel is an angel, and pretty famous as angels go. In fact, he is about the best-known angel in history. But famous or not, angels can be pretty scary. In the first place, they usually just show up all at once—when you're not expecting them. This wouldn't be too bad if they were normal sized, but they're awfully big and very shiny. Gabriel didn't mean to scare me, and when he realized how badly he had frightened me, he seemed apologetic.

"Don't be afraid, Mary," he said.

I know he meant well, but I was scared to death. My heart was pounding and my knees were knocking together.

"Mary, you are going to have a baby," said Gabriel. "Joseph will not be the baby's father."

"Then who will be? I don't know any other men!"

"The Holy Spirit!"

"How can the Holy Spirit be a father?"

"All things are possible with God, Mary."

"I guess so."

Then Gabriel left. I was glad. I found him pretty hard to talk to.

But once you've seen an angel, you're edgy for a while. It was hard for me to sleep the next few nights, just thinking he might pop in and scare me to death and then once again tell me not to be afraid.

Well, the angel was right. It wasn't long before I could tell I was going to be a mother. I knew everyone would soon ask how I was feeling and who was going to be the father. I decided to tell Joseph about it.

"That's crazy!" said Joseph. "Men are the fathers of babies, not God!"

"Well, not my baby!" I said.

"I'll have to think about this!" said Joseph.

He did.

Then he came back and said, "I'm sorry, Mary. I just don't believe you. I can't think of a single baby that has ever been born without a father, can you?"

I thought and thought, but I couldn't think of one, either.

"No, Joseph, I can't. Of course, that's how God works most of the time. He usually does very unbelievable things only once! Can you think of anybody but Moses who ever split the Red Sea?"

"No, Mary, I can't."

"Me neither. So there you are, Joseph. If Moses is the only one who ever split the Red Sea, maybe I'll be the only one who ever has a baby without an ordinary man being the baby's father."

"I'll have to think about this!"

He did.

Then he came back to me. "Mary, I just hate to tell you this, but I can't marry you after all. I don't believe you, and I don't think anyone else will believe you."

"But what about the angel I saw?" I asked.

"Well, Mary, I love you, but I don't believe you saw an angel, either."

I cried when Joseph said that. Usually when I cried, Joseph would put his arm around me and say, "Now, now, Mary. Don't cry." It's not so hard to feel bad if someone's there to say, "Now, now, dearie." But when there's no one there to say it, you can feel very bad. So this time when Joseph just walked away I really felt like crying.

I have always believed when you feel bad, you should try to tell God, because he can either make you feel better or he can show you why feeling bad is all right under the circumstances. So I prayed, "Dear God, I wish Joseph believed in angels."

It seemed like I could almost hear God say out loud, "He will very shortly!"

Well, that very night, when Joseph was sleeping, Gabriel came to him.

"Ta-da!" Gabriel said, surprising Joseph and causing him suddenly to believe in angels. "Joseph! You better go ahead and marry Mary. When her baby is born, you will name him Jesus. He will be the Savior and will save his people from their sins."

When Joseph woke up, he was covered with sweat.

He ran over to my house as fast as his sandals would carry him.

"Mary, I have seen the very same angel you saw!"

"Glory be to God!" I shouted.

"Mary, let's get married right now!"

"Well, I think we should wait till tomorrow afternoon so we can invite a few friends."

And so we did.

One day, after we'd been married for several months, Joseph said, "Mary, I got a notice. We have to go to Bethlehem to pay our taxes."

"Joseph," I said, "we can't take this trip. Our baby is due any day."

"Mary, the Romans will arrest us if we don't take this tax trip. We gotta go pay our taxes."

I realized he was right.

We owned a little donkey, and Joseph had made a little sidesaddle in his carpenter's shop. It was so close to the baby's time to be born that I needed to ride for part of the journey. Bethlehem was more than fifty miles away. The baby was so close to being born that my stomach stuck out quite a ways, which made my back really hurt.

"Joseph, my back hurts," I said, and I wanted to cry.

"Now, now, Mary, don't cry," he said as he patted me and hugged me. He was so kind, and it surprised me that I heard him say under his breath, "Grrrr. Romans!"

I think it was the only time I ever heard him growl at the Romans. Lucky for us there weren't any around at the time.

We traveled for days. I was so glad when I could see the walls and towers of Jerusalem rising in the distance. We walked past Jerusalem in the early afternoon and finally came to Bethlehem about dark.

"Joseph," I said, "I think I'm about to give birth to a baby."

"Not now, Mary, please!" Joseph begged. "Wait till later!"

"Well, how much later?"

"A lot later," said Joseph.

"I'll try, but I have a feeling this baby will be born tonight."

"Well, I'll get us a room as soon as we get into Bethlehem. Maybe you'll feel better when you have lain down a little while," said Joseph.

That sounded so good! I was really looking forward to a good night's sleep in one of the wonderful little inns in Bethlehem. Was I ever in for a surprise. Would you believe that there were so many people in town to pay their taxes that there was not a single room to be found anywhere in the city?

I had never seen Joseph cry. And he didn't really cry that night. But I could see tears swimming in the corners of his eyes when the last innkeeper promptly rejected us, telling us there was no room in the inn. Still, the innkeeper told us he had a stable and that there was some nice soft straw where I could lie down. Joseph thanked him and took me out back of the inn to the stable. We went into the stable. It didn't smell all that great, what with the animals being inside. But there was a lot of straw, and it was soft. To be honest, my back ached so badly that I was grateful for the straw.

When I had been lying down for just a little while, I could tell the baby was about to be born. "Here comes our baby!" I said to Joseph.

"Well, okay! But call his name Jesus like the angel said."

"All right, dear," I said just as Jesus was being born.

I had some pain, but it went away real fast when I saw our little boy. I was so happy, I could almost hear the angels singing.

Actually, they really were singing in the fields just outside of town. There were a whole bunch of shepherds out there looking after sheep, pretty much like they always did, when wham! A whole sky full of angels scared them half to death. Then, when they were all shuddering in fear, guess what the angels said? "Fear not!" But once again, they said it so late those poor shepherds were nearly witless.

Then, while the poor shepherds were quaking in their sandals, the angels told them to come into Bethlehem and find our new baby boy, Jesus, for he was the Savior.

I couldn't help but wonder why the angels told those shepherds that Jesus had been born. In a way I wished they had told some of the older women in the synagogue, who sometimes brought food and blankets to people with new babies. But for some reason the angels just told these fieldhands. So here they came. They didn't bring any gifts or anything like that. Still, in a way they brought something better than food or clothes. They came and worshipped our little baby. It seemed funny in some ways, because people don't usually worship babies, but in this case they did. And suddenly in front of these shepherds, I remembered that our baby was God's son, the most special baby ever born.

The shepherds left.

Joseph hugged me, and we both spent a lot of time just staring at Jesus. He was so beautiful, and God had been so good to give us such a wonderful little son. Joseph was holding him and looking down at him and saying, "You know, Mary, I can hardly wait till he gets big enough to run races with the other boys in the synagogue. I'll bet he beats them all."

"Uh-huh!" I said smiling. "But he could get hurt playing sports."

"Well, maybe," said Joseph. "But we shouldn't keep him inside too much, Mary. I don't want him to be pale and sickly. Let him play outside."

"All right," I said. "But I want him to have good manners and say please and thank you and tell the rabbi he's preached a good sermon."

"But only when the rabbi does preach a good sermon. We want the boy to be honest, don't we?"

"Of course," I said.

"Know what I'm going to do, Mary?"

"No, Joseph, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to make a carpenter out of this boy."

"Well, don't let him cut himself on the saw or hit his hand with the hammer."

"Now, Mary, you're already being too protective with the boy, and he's not a week old yet."

"Well, you've already made a carpenter out of him, and he can't even hold a hammer!"

It was our first conversation on how to raise kids. We both broke into laughter when we realized how very much both of us had to learn.

In a few days Joseph had paid our taxes. Now there were fewer people staying in Bethlehem, so we were able to move out of the stable. I felt better living in a place that was cleaner. Jesus was eating well and sleeping most of the night.

We decided to stay in Bethlehem for a while. Jesus was really growing, but I would never forget the wonderful night he was born and all that had happened. I never saw any more angels after that, so life settled down a lot. In time Jesus became a carpenter like his father Joseph. He was a very good carpenter, but then, you'd expect a mother to think that, wouldn't you?

* * *

Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella

-Author Unknown

This traditional carol reflects the sentiments of children everywhere and in all ages. Very little is known about this song. It is sometimes attributed to Nicholas Saboly, but it is more likely of folk origin. It probably originated in Provence, France, in the seventeenth century.

Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella,

Bring a torch, come swiftly and run.

Christ is born, tell the folk of the village,

Jesus is sleeping in His cradle.

Ah, ah, beautiful is the Mother,

Ah, ah, beautiful is her Son.

Hasten now, good folk of the village,

Hasten now, the Christ Child to see.

You will find Him asleep in the manger,

Quietly come and whisper softly,

Hush, hush, peacefully now He slumbers,

Hush, hush, peacefully now He sleeps.

* * *

The Holy Birth

-Jim Bishop

Have you ever wondered how Joseph reacted upon first seeing the baby Jesus? Maybe it happened like this. Jim Bishop has written wonderful "one-day" books, like The Day Christ Died. This telling is about the day Christ was born.

Joseph had run out of prayers and promises. His face was sick, his eyes listless. He looked up toward the east, and his dark eyes mirrored a strange thing: three stars, coming over the Mountains of Moab, were fused into one tremendously bright one. His eyes caught the glint of bright blue light, almost like a tiny moon, and he wondered about it and was still vaguely troubled by it when he heard a tiny, thin wail, a sound so slender that one had to listen again for it to make sure.

He wanted to rush inside at once. He got to his feet, and he moved no further. She would call him. He would wait. Joseph paced up and down, not realizing that men had done this thing for centuries before he was born, and would continue it for many centuries after he had gone.

"Joseph." It was a soft call, but he heard it. At once, he picked up the second jar of water and hurried inside. The two lamps still shed a soft glow over the stable, even though it seemed years since they had been lighted.

The first thing he noticed was his wife. Mary was sitting tailor-fashion with her back against a manger wall. Her face was clean; her hair had been brushed. There were blue hollows under her eyes. She smiled at her husband and nodded. Then she stood.

She beckoned him to come closer. Joseph, mouth agape, followed her to a little manger. It had been cleaned but, where the animals had nipped the edges of the wood, the boards were worn and splintered. In the manger were the broad bolts of white swaddling she had brought on the trip. They were doubled underneath and over the top of the baby.

Mary smiled at her husband as he bent far over to look. There, among the cloths, he saw the tiny face of an infant. This, said Joseph to himself, is the one of whom the angel spoke. He dropped to his knees beside the manger. This was the Messiah.1

1Jim Bishop, "The Holy Birth" in The Day Christ Was Born (New York: Harper, 1959).

 


Excerpted from:
The Book of Jesus for Families by Calvin Miller
Copyright © 2002, Calvin Miller
ISBN:076422171X
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

 

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