Author: Glenys Nellist
Author Website: https://www.glenysnellist.com/
Illustrator: Sophie Allsopp
Word Count: Total Devotions – 1449 Average - 207 Average Love Letter – 86
This story is perfect for ages: 4-6, 6+
Straight from Aunty LuLav
This is one of the “Love Letters from God” series by Glenys Nellist. This Easter version of Love Letters is a traditional telling of the Easter Week Events.
Easter Love Letters from God is cleverly written in 7 scenes with a lift-the-flap love letter from God included with each scene. You can even personalize the love letters, addressing them to your child. Each letter gives “God’s take” on what happened in that Holy week event.
One lovely feature is the last page provides an opportunity for your child to respond to God with their very own love letter.
This book is flexible, in that instead of one continuous retelling of the Holy Week story, you can use it as 7 separate devotions with your child. The age range given by Zonderkidz is 4-8. Likewise, the text leaves room for dialogue regarding the events, their meaning and application.
Scriptural Underpinnings & Positive Themes
The first section is the Triumphal entry of Matthew 21:1-11 entitled the “King of Kings.” Nellist compares the entrance of an earthly king to the entrance of Jesus as a spiritual king. The love letter from God tells us that His Son was sent not to defeat the Roman army, BUT that Jesus came to fight sadness, hatred and unkindness with love.
“What Love Looks Like” – John 13:1-17 retells the scene in the upper room where Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. The focus is on Jesus washing their feet like a servant, to demonstrate love.
“The Secret Supper “ – Luke 22:14-20 & John 14:1-6 – The secret supper is the Passover scene the night before Jesus is crucified. Here the emphasis is on Jesus being the Way to Heaven. Father God emphasizes the big house in heaven and the pure joy of being there, in the love letter to the child. He tells them that Jesus, His Son, is the Way to get there.
The Next Few Scene are:
“The Gloomy Garden” Mark 14:32-42 & Matthew 28:20. Jesus in Gethsemane, where the emphasis is on the assurance that God is always with us, even in trouble.
“The Darkest Day” – the Crucifixion –Matthew 27:45-57 & Romans 8:39 The description is quite sensory and sad. But Nellist give an accurate depiction of those last moments on the cross.
“The Quiet Cave” – John 19:38-42 & Isaiah 43:19 This devotion covers the burial of Jesus. It is emphasized that God is at work, even when we do not see Him or hear Him. And that God is a God of surprises.
“The Super Surprise” – Mark 16:1-7 & Galatians 3:26 The Resurrection is full of phrases of joy and beauty of the birds, the sun and the morning sky as the earth woke up and knew that Jesus was ALIVE!
The illustrations have a lot going on to keep a child’s interest. A symbolic part of each illustrations appears as a stamp on the love letters. An example is the love letter for the Grave is a caterpillar and a butterfly or from the Foot Washing scene, a water jar and hands cupping water. Nicely done. The lift-the-flap love letters add a nice touch to the retelling of the story.
I struggle a bit with representation in this story. The disciples do not look like Jewish men of that time. Seven out of 12 of them are clean-shaven like a gentile. And only 5 of them have any sort of head covering. Even Jesus does not have head covered.
Likewise, the Secret Supper – was not a secret at all. It was the Passover celebration, the night when all of Israel sacrificed a male lamb, without blemish. Jesus and the disciples were celebrating the Passover, which beautifully foreshadowed Jesus being our Passover Lamb the very next day when he was crucified on the cross. I am sensitive to us, the church, being careful to be reflective of the Jewish root of our Savior and of our faith. He is our glorious Savior, but also the Jewish Messiah.
Overall, I like the creativity of this book and God’s description of each scene written into the love letters to your child.
In the the love letter for the Crucifixion scene. God writes that He felt sad and cried when Jesus was on the cross. That is OK, I am sure the Father’s heart was rent when His son took on the sin of the world and suffered, but I think the text went a bit off when saying, “And when my son died, part of me died too.”
I have a pause with this as it seems that the Father is Human and that He would die. God created all life and He is eternal. He always was, always is and always will be. God will never die. I imagine the intent was to make Father God more accessible to us, more approachable, more human. However, I think this statement strays into muddy waters theologically.
The End of the Matter4/5 waves
A very creative and traditional retelling of the events of Holy Week.
We wave our Lulavs and Shout Hosanna!