BOOKS | Karl Grice
Kevin DeYoung’s latest book began its life as a Christmas sermon. DeYoung says, “I tried to deliver the message like I was reading a book – a book for children sitting by the fire on Christmas morning. Alas, I had no fireplace in the pulpit that Sunday and no children gathered at my feet!”
Nevertheless, DeYoung gave his Christmas sermon and it has now found its way into book form with stunning illustrations by Don Clark. Bold, dark colours and striking symbolism, create a slightly melancholy feel as the story unfolds.
DeYoung’s conversational writing style make it easy to read aloud (I’ve tested this with my eldest daughter). And just like any good story, it has surprising twists and turns. Some of the imagery will be unfamiliar, even to parents. Take the time pause and reflect on these unexpected allusions. A craftsman with words, DeYoung uses them to draw out some of the beautiful paradoxes contained in the Bible. Subtle humour is splashed throughout. A clever turn of phrase dotted here and there will make you smile and appreciate anew some simple but profound biblical truths.
On the birth and life of Jesus, the long awaited Snake-Crusher, DeYoung writes:
“The stable with the animals and the scandal with unmarried Mary were surprises to most folks. The miracles were remarkable. The teaching was unlike anything anyone had ever heard. The bumbling band of hand-picked disciples – that was curious.”
The Biggest Story is, of course, the story of the Bible retold from beginning to end. Although it has full colour illustrations on every page, it is not really a picture Bible. It is written as one complete story with ten chapters. You could easily read it through from beginning to end with primary school aged children, or perhaps one chapter at a time with younger kids.
The story DeYoung tells is not just a good story. It is the biggest story. DeYoung writes “It’s a familiar story to some of us. It’s a true story for all of us.” And at this point, he gives us a quick lesson in eschatology: “we haven’t seen the end of the story – not yet … The Snake Crusher is coming back again to wipe away all the bad guys and wipe away every tear. He’s coming back to make a new beginning and to finish what he started. He’s coming to give us the home we once had and might have forgotten that we lost.”
Sitting around the fireplace this Summer swapping stories is an unlikely Australian Christmas activity. Perhaps though, on Christmas Eve, in the afterglow of dusk, you could gather the kids around on the back deck, with the citronella candles burning, and share with them once again The Biggest Story every told.