Monday, October 27, 2014

Four Important Words for Christians

Being Christian is a new book from Rowan Williams, who recently served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury (2002--2012) but now is Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge in the U.K. The subtitle is Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer and these are key words, important concepts, and what Williams calls activities, or, "the essence of Christian life." Published by Eerdmans Publishing Co., more information is available at

Only about 92 pages, you might call it a "quick read," but not if you want to stop and think about what Williams is saying and explaining. He tells us that these four chapters are based on talks he gave during Holy Week in Canterbury Cathedral. I admit I regret that I was not there to see and hear. It's lovely to be at Canterbury, making memories, at any time, but it is also nice to hold his texts in my hands, read, and think about them.

Williams' four important activities each has a chapter filled with biblical and cultural history and how they go together, and Old and New Testament stories, especially stories of Jesus. All of this reminds us of who we are, where we came from, how we fit into history and into God's plans, and the many gifts and responsibilities God has given believers down through the years. It's all bound up in these special activities that Williams explains so eloquently.

The chapters conclude with a few questions for the reader to think about in applying the text to his or her own situation. This is a helpful and encouraging book. Would be a nice gift. 

---Lois Sibley,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two books for Godly Play...

Jerome Berryman, with his late wife Thea, is the founder and director of a program for young children called Godly Play, and he has written two new stories for the program. The stories are: The Great Family, which tells the story of Abram and Sarai, their travels, and God's promises to them; and The Good Shepherd, about a shepherd and how he loves and cares for his sheep. Of course, it is Jesus, but the children have to guess that. Both books are published by Morehouse Education Resources, a division of Church Publishing Inc. The illustrator is Lois Mitchell, an artist as well as a Godly Play teacher. Though appropriate for small fingers, the books are large, 8 1/2" x 11" and very colorful. For more information visit

Last January, on this blog, I reviewed Berryman's book on the Godly Play program, called The Spiritual Guidance of Children. In it, he gives some of the history of early Sunday school programs as well as the work of Maria Montessori in Rome in 1907, and others who believed that children are "inherently spiritual." Teachers under Montessori's guidance were trained in how to guide children in their spirituality.

The Berrymans joined in the challenges of helping children to know God as they planned their Godly Play program. Berryman says there are similarities and differences in other programs and most are built on Montessori's earlier work in the Roman Catholic network. Godly Play was first marketed to the Episcopal Church but is now "in the mainstream of Christian education around the world." Berryman reminds us that none of these programs are finished, and they all "continue to try to find better ways to help children help themselves to know God."

 I can almost hear the children saying to each other: "I wonder...."

---Lois Sibley