Collectors' Color Edition: Read the parables of Jesus retold in a whole new light. Explore the “hidden years” of Jesus’ life, when a young but self-aware savior, filled with boyish curiosity yet wise beyond his years, enjoys those childhood experiences which just might lie behind the familiar tales. Written for middle-grade readers or for sharing with younger children, these stories each take five minutes to read aloud and are perfect for Sunday school, children's church, or even adult Bible study. Fully illustrated. Includes author's notes on history, geography and culture.
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Nazareth Neighbors by Sheila Deeth (Cape Arago Press: 2014), 181 pages. I just finished reading an advance copy of Nazareth Neighbors by my friend and author, Sheila Deeth. I was charmed. Sheila has taken Jesus’ parables from the four gospels and retold them using the narrative of Jesus’ childhood. She imagines Jesus as a small child, a school age boy and a teenager, growing up in Nazareth in Mary and Joseph’s home. By reimagining the parable of the good shepherd, the prodigal son, the lost coin and the pearl of great worth, and many others through the lens of a child, she is able to make the underlying lessons accessible and easy to understand. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Nazareth Neighbors. “Do you suppose that sweet little boy, Jesus, growing up in the nice normal town of Nazareth, on its hill above the vineyards of the Jezreel Valley, knew what was going to happen at the end of his story? He obeyed his parents for all those years, growing ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.’ Then he obeyed God, and gave his life for us.” (p. 3) This is the frame of reference from which the narrator tells these stories about young Jesus Christ. In this next excerpt Sheila Deeth examines the parable of pouring new wine into new wineskins, but again from the vantage point of a young boy growing up in his parents’ home. “Mary finally found a piece of cloth that was nearly right for Joseph’s robe. Then she asked Jesus to get a bowl of water from the river for her. He hurried away down sandy streets, feeling the wind on his legs. Then he scooped up water in his bowl and ran back with cold wet trickles dibbling onto his knees. “Mary soaked the new piece of cloth in the water, rubbing it with stones and tugging and stretching at it, until she was ready to sew it onto Joseph’s robe. ‘Why do you do that?’ Jesus asked. ‘Why are you making the cloth all messy?’ ‘I have to make it match,’ said Mary. ‘But the colors don’t match,’ said Jesus, and he was right. The robe was brown, and the cloth was grayish white. ‘I know,’ said his mother. ‘But I have to make the material match. If I sew something too new or too old into the hole it will just tear away. Then we’ll have a bigger hole to mend.’ “When Jesus grew up, he remembered Mary’s cloth, and he remembered how to mend holes. When some important church leaders asked why he’d chosen such poor, uneducated people to be his most important disciples, Jesus explained, ‘I’m teaching something new. I’m filling in the holes in what you’ve learned. But I can’t teach people who think they’ve already learned it all. That would be like sewing new cloth onto an old garment. It would tear away and everything everyone knew would fall out through the hole.’” (p. 8) This sweet vignette helped me better understand the new wineskin parable. Since I’ve never seen a wineskin I always had trouble visualizing what the difference was between old and new wineskins. Sheila points out that the parable isn’t really about the wineskins, it is about the old and new covenants.Nazareth Neighbors is 57 chapters long. Each chapter is two to four pages long and covers one parable. Each chapter ends with a simple prayer. Reading one chapter to a child at bedtime could be a lovely bedtime story.