"The Good Shepherd's Pasture" by Elizabeth Harwell. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How do we tell our children about Jesus? In what ways can we explain the Gospel so that it gets into little ears and nabs little hearts? Then, we have to think about the value of our little ones' baptism and how to communicate it to them. Elizabeth Harwell has crafted a wonderful 39 page, reading-out-loud hardback, "The Good Shepherd's Pasture," to convey to our children all of those things.
The story nicely draws in the Old Testament rite of circumcision and connects it's forward-looking to the coming of the Good Shepherd and baptism. Harwell also artfully teases out our sin, the Good Shepherd's remedy, that the child needs to trust in Jesus for herself or himself, how they belong to the Good Shepherd and his pasture, that their baptism marks them as belonging to Jesus, and that they also should sing the love songs of the Good Shepherd to others. As you can tell, the author is binding together Psalm 23 and John 10 to tell the story attractively. In less than five to seven minutes of reading, mom and dad will have handed to their children some valuable and essential details for their lives! For example, imagine sitting down and reading to your children how their baptism "is a sign that points us to Jesus and a mark the we belong to His church. On the day you were baptized, we were telling the world around us that you live in a home that follows the Good Shepherd, and we were telling you that you are not an outsider. You belong in this pasture with us."
And Laura Pennebaker has added a touch of watercolor sketches to each page that gives a nice visual ambiance to the book. Her artwork shows consideration for anyone worried about images of Jesus and shouldn't trouble someone who has concerns about the second commandment. This is one of the first aspects of the book I noted, and deeply appreciate her thoughtfulness.
"The Good Shepherd's Pasture" reads well, and nicely sings a line from the Good Shepherd's love song. Grandparents and parents should gather up copies for their kids and grandkids. Pastors and churches could easily, and affordably, give out copies at every baptism. And know that every time it is read, those young ones will hear the free offer of Jesus: "In time to come, perhaps even today, the Shepherd will call out your name. Imagine - the One who breathed you into life calling out to you, reaching out His hand for you to walk with Him forever. We pray you drop everything and run to Him. Your heart will find its truest home as He sweeps you up into His arms." It's a beautiful book that I happily recommend.
The background story behind why the author wrote the book can be found at "The Heavens Torn Open: Why I Wrote a Book about Covenant Baptism".
My thanks to the Committee on Discipleship Ministries, and the PCA Bookstore, for sending me a special preview copy used for this review and sent at my request. There were no stipulations laid on me, so this review is freely penned and freely distributed. And this review is my own grandfatherly-fatherly-pastorly appraisal.
You can order copies here: https://www.pcabookstore.com/p-91626-good-shepherds-pasture-a-sto.aspx
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