Making the Christian Faith Tangible for Young Readers

The Little House in Heaven is a lovely story about a young girl named Melissa Green who enters another world where she learns about Jesus. What she learns of Jesus there Melissa applies to her ordinary life in an English village. The full story sees Melissa attend church for the first time in her life, learn about the love and forgiveness of Jesus, grow in her faith in Him, deal with temptation, see the answer to her prayers, make friends with unlikely people, and understand the importance of obedience and listening to her conscience.

Author, Kathleen Watson, uses the motif of a picture of a house built on a rock as Melissa’s entry point into the other world. This motif is carried throughout the story and is used as a tool to teach a number of Christian principles. One of those principles is the wonderful news that believers in Jesus will each have their own mansions in heaven, an image which both opens and closes the book.

Other important Christian principles are spelt out using Bible verses, many of them explained to the protagonist by the character of Jesus himself.

Watson intersects Melissa’s imaginative world with the character’s real one in an effort to make Jesus and the Christian faith tangible for the reader. The Little House in Heaven is thus a sort of modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress.

The writing is simple enough for middle grade children to understand and the passage of time is well handled. Characters, from Miss Amy Light upstairs, to Rufus next door, to Melissa’s mother and grandparents are gently drawn and have just enough depth to be interesting.

Whilst adults will not likely struggle to understand the difference between Christian teaching and Watson’s vehicle for telling it, it could be confusing for children. As a caveat, therefore, to Watson’s story: adults would need to explain the important difference between a mere imaginative world and the real yet intangible one of the Christian faith.

The Little House in Heaven is available for purchase on eBay or from the author, blue4flower@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Risen: A Film about Jesus through the Eyes of a Roman

Just in time for the Christian holiday of Easter Ster Kinekor South Africa is releasing the film Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis.

Risen, as you might have guessed, tells the biblical story of Jesus of Nazareth who died and inexplicably rose to life again, confounding the Jewish and Roman authorities in attendance at the time. Rather than a story about Jesus or Yeshua, though, Risen is the tale of one man’s response to Jesus: that of the Roman Tribune, Clavius (Fiennes).

Risen-www.cbn.com

Ralph Fiennes and Tom Felton in Risen. Photo: http://www.cbn.com

 

The film actually opens with Clavius presiding over his men quelling a small rebellion in the dusty land of Israel. Viewers get to see Roman battle tactics first hand; quite clever I thought, the way the soldiers advanced on the enemy using their shields. Bloody and battle worn, Clavius returns to headquarters only to be immediately summoned by Pilate who has a problem. Pilate has had to crucify a troublesome Jew at the insistence of the Jewish Sanhedrin and he asks Clavius to oversee proceedings to their conclusion. Clavius does so with characteristic efficiency. But when Jesus’ body is buried in a tomb, unlike other crucified victims who are simply turfed into an open common grave, complications arise. The body mysteriously disappears and Clavius is called upon to trace it, thereby keeping the peace and pacifying the Roman authorities.

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