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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

In God’s Hands

by Melanie Heuis­er Hill

In God's HandsThis week, I am read­ing (for the umpteenth time) what I think of as The Very Most Favorite Book of the chil­dren in my church. They call it That Book About Bread. The book is In God’s Hands by Lawrence Kush­n­er and Gary Schmidt and it res­onates deeply with these kids.

I know how it will go. I’ll pull it out of my bag and a gen­er­al clam­or and harangue will go up.

YAY!” 

I LOVE THAT BOOK!

Me, too!”

You haven’t read that book in a long time!” (Deliv­ered with a pouty face.)

You should read That Book About Bread EVERY week.”

Now, this is a very well-read group of kids—they are a ter­rif­ic sto­ry­time audi­ence. But they do not say these things about every book. Some books I pull out (espe­cial­ly if they are books “about God”) illic­it these respons­es:

You already read that one.” (Pouty face.)

Aahhh…not that one!”

Are you just read­ing that one first and then a bet­ter one next?”

Can you read That Book About Bread?”

Yeah! Read That Book About Bread!”

In God’s Hands begins like this:

When the sun sets and stars fill the sky, the square in the lit­tle town grows qui­et and still. The cool air of dis­tant hills min­gles with the sweet scent of bak­ing bread. The moon ris­es and glows soft­ly. It’s the sort of place where mir­a­cles could hap­pen.

The chil­dren grow qui­et and still as I read. You can prac­ti­cal­ly see them inhale the sweet scent of bak­ing bread. They are ready to hear (again) about the mir­a­cle that hap­pens in this book. They love that it’s called a mir­a­cle, because what hap­pens in this book is a quo­tid­i­an mix-up–and the kids fig­ure it out before the char­ac­ters do. 

Jacob is a rich man, David is a poor man. Jacob, half asleep in syn­a­gogue ser­vice, hears God call him to bake twelve loaves of chal­lah and set them before The Lord in two rows, six in each row. (What he actu­al­ly hears is the day’s Torah read­ing from Leviti­cus.) Obe­di­ent­ly, Jacob does this—he bakes twelve beau­ti­ful braid­ed loaves and places them in the synagogue’s ark, where the holy Torah is kept, since that seems to be the clos­est place to God.

Soon after, David, the care­tak­er of the syn­a­gogue, comes before the ark and prays a prayer of qui­et des­per­a­tion. His fam­i­ly is hun­gry and they are out of food.

When I turn the page and David opens the ark to find twelve loaves of braid­ed chal­lah, the chil­dren all but cheer. They lis­ten in delight as the mir­a­cle con­tin­ues. Jacob, astound­ed that God has received his twelve loaves, con­tin­ues to bake; and David, his chil­dren ever hun­gry, con­tin­ues to receive with deep grat­i­tude the mirac­u­lous loaves that appear in the ark. Nei­ther man real­izes what is happening—they quite appro­pri­ate­ly call it a mir­a­cle. But the kids know what is going on, and they love it!

I love the mes­sage of this beau­ti­ful book—the wise rab­bi explains that God’s mir­a­cles often work like this. “Your hands are God’s hands,” he says. And now that David and Jacob know this, they will have to keep act­ing as they have—doing God’s work with their hands.

Read it again!” the kids say.

My copy is well-worn. I intend to read it until it falls apart. Then I’ll get a new one.

 

5 Responses to In God’s Hands

  1. Liza Ketchum April 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    How love­ly. Thanks for shar­ing this; it’s the only one of Gary’s books that I haven’t read!

  2. Catherine Urdahl April 16, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    Thank you, Melanie! This sounds like a beau­ti­ful book. I’m adding it to my Mother’s Day wish-list!

  3. Saundra Knauff April 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    Thank you for shar­ing this book, it sounds so won­der­ful! I have ordered copies to give to two of my grand­chil­dren who will be cel­e­brat­ing their First Com­mu­nion soon.

  4. Gloria April 17, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    Love the message…so true. My nephew will be get­ting this one for First Com­mu­nion!

  5. Melanie Heuiser Hill April 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    And I LOVE that this is a sto­ry in that takes place in a syn­a­gogue and so many Chris­tians buy it for First Communion–pretty cool! It’s a won­der­ful book–I trust you’ll all be big fans. (And per­fect for Mother’s Day, too, Cather­ine! Enjoy!)

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