Recently in worship we presented a Spark Story Bible* to every family
with children in preschool-second grade. It was great seeing the families come up to the front and handing them a bible. The kids held them tight as we blessed the families in their reading of God's story together. I have been a leader in ministry at Faith Lutheran Church for years. I love putting in the hands of parents the bible and other resources that will encourage and foster faith conversations at home with their kids.
Over the years I have seen a variety of reactions in parents to the support and resources we give them. They are always positive but also sometimes a little apprehensive. Many parents are nervous about being asked questions about God and faith that they feel they may not be able to answer. When we gave out the bibles this last time, I faced a reaction from a parent I had never seen before.
At Faith, we have a little pocket of African refugees who have joined our community and are slowly
but consistently integrating into a culture that is very different for them. More and more people know their names and talk with them on Sunday mornings despite a considerable language barrier. I have gotten to know these families because I volunteered in the nursery last year to watch the youngest children while parents attended ESL classes in our church basement.
The day we presented the story bibles to the families, I noticed that one of the African families did not come forward to receive one even though they have a preschooler. (I am still learning how to best communicate details of Sunday School and church with these families.) After worship I caught up with the mom and her son. When I said, "I have something for you. It is a bible for your family." Her son's eyes lit up! A book! For him! But her face looked troubled and worried. I told her, "This is for you to read to your boys." I knew in that moment she was thinking that her English reading skills are still developing and she struggles with that. Would she be able to read it? I opened the Story Bible for her and showed her the large type with the simple but well told bible stories. Her face changed immediately - from sadness to joy. In her own soft-spoken way, she exclaimed, "Yes!" She realized she would be able to read many of these stories to her sons.
My heart filled. I felt her joy. It is the same joy that all parents feel when they can teach their children the things that are important to them. The same joy one feels when they know they are part of a community. And it is also the same joy we all feel when the Holy Spirit surprises us and reminds us we are divinely connected.
I pray these Story Bibles will bring many moments of joy to all the families as they read of God's great love for us.
*I highly recommend the Spark Story Bible. It includes 150 stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Even though the stories are written for young readers and listeners, they maintain their emotional integrity and are a powerful testimony to God’s saving love for all creation. Because of this, the Spark Story Bible is a welcome addition to families and classrooms with older children as well.