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What Is Communion? Review by Donna Campos

By Victoria L. Stankus; Senior Illustrator Dr. James L. McIntosh

What Is Communion? is a softcover book with a glossy, full-color cover. However, all of the text and drawings within the book's 62 pages are black and white. All included Scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible. The book begins with a two-page Foreword by Rev. Gary E. Gilley, a one-page Author's Acknowledgments, and a one-page Note to Parents. The Foreword provides a basic explanation of our sinful nature and Christ's death as an act of pure love by God to save undeserving sinners. The book is intended to be a resource for adults to use when explaining both Communion and the gospel message. The Author's Acknowledgments include thanks to her father for drawing most of the illustrations, thanks to a friend who is a fellow mother of special needs children, along with other acknowledgments. The Note to Parents clarifies that the book is not designed to be freely read by children alone unless they have read it previously with an adult. The author's daughter has autism and benefits from both illustrations and simple words to understand concepts. The black-and-white illustrations tend to be less distracting to some children.

The book is divided into the following sections:

  • What is Communion?
  • What do people do when they celebrate communion?
  • Why do we celebrate communion?
  • Why did Jesus have to sacrifice Himself for our sins?
  • Who can celebrate communion?
  • Are you trusting in Jesus?

The explanations are from an Evangelical Protestant viewpoint. The format has large print on each right-hand page and a corresponding line drawing on the left-hand page.

This book definitely explains communion in understandable terms for young children and those with special needs. This has been a difficult concept for our son with autism to grasp. What Is Communion? better defined the actual ceremony and what it represents. The book defines worship as "to celebrate, or be very thankful for something someone has done for you." The best and most direct explanation was that Communion helps us remember. We liked that Scripture was presented in italics and that the "Why?" portion includes Christ's birth, sinless life, and Passover meal, as well as his death and resurrection. Rather than stopping with only the basics of communion, this book continues into exactly why Jesus had to die on the cross, sacrificing himself for our sins. The entire gospel message is presented. The final pages ask whether the child has trusted in Jesus. It explains that to be saved you need to admit your sinfulness, believe that Jesus is God's Son, believe that He died for your sins and rose again, and believe that ONLY Jesus and nothing else can save you. The final page clarifies that if you are trusting in Jesus for your sins to be forgiven, then you are ready to celebrate Communion and remember how Jesus died for us.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed with a couple of the pictures. The picture showing the elements of Communion includes broken bread and a large cup as well as the more modern tiny squares of cracker and cups carried in trays, but it was difficult to look at that picture and tell what it actually was. Also, the disciple picture is a grainy photocopy, and it portrays some disciples as seemingly bored or even asleep. It definitely could have been much better quality.

Overall, though, our family enjoyed What Is Communion? I will read it again with my younger children in coming years. The book was not distracting for our son with autism, so obviously the pictures were not overwhelming for him. This book would make a wonderful addition to a church library and could be used well by those who work in children's ministries. If you have a child who has a difficult time understanding abstract concepts such as Communion, this book will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009