Let me begin like this: if you’re a Christian with kids, then Meals with Jesus is an absolute treasure-chest.
Simply put, the book is a set of 34 daily devotions for families to use together, based around nine meals Jesus shared with people in Luke’s gospel. The book suggests they could be used during Lent (hence the January release), doing one a day and not including weekends, or alternatively they could be done four a week, over the course of nine weeks, at any time of the year.
But what you really need to know is that these devotions are so simple and so accessible, whilst also being fun, imaginative and spiritually engaging. As Ed says, ‘Come and have a meal with Jesus’, and that’s evidently the aim:
‘With these studies your family will have the chance to look Jesus in the eye, to ask their deepest questions and to hear him speaking to them.’
If you’re familiar with Ed’s teaching, you may become too familiar to miss the wonder of it, but it struck me afresh flicking through Meals with Jesus. It truly seeks to encourage a heart-encounter with God. Rather than just giving simplistic action-points or moralism, it seeks to hold out Christ to the hearts of kids, teens and adults alike.
Flat-pack Family Devotions
By the way, if you’ve not come across Faith in Kids (of which Ed Drew is the Director), it’s arguably the Christian organisation we are most grateful for as a family after the last nine months of COVID-life! Ed’s family Bible-times on Facebook Live have been a real gift, but alongside those, the FiK podcast for parents, their creative ‘God with Us’ Christmas resource packs, and the FiK Sunday School lessons, have all really blessed both us as a family and myself as a church leader, throughout this strange season.
And in Meals with Jesus, Ed has crafted each daily devotion so that they follow a similar, replicable format. Whether you have a couple of minutes to prayerfully read through the devotion in advance, or whether you just have to launch into one ‘on the hoof’, essentially you can’t really go wrong. He tells you what you need to say, what you could pray, what you’re to read from the Bible, and what questions you’re to ask (with different options depending on the age group). As Randall Goodgame’s commendation puts it, Meals with Jesus has ‘done the heavy lifting’ for you.
But as I said, it’s not just straight-forward and user-friendly, it’s lots of fun, to the point, and spiritually perceptive. One of the elements I really liked is that there’s a couple of questions for ‘everyone’ each day, and then one question for each age group (3-4’s, 5-7’s, over 7’s, teens, and ‘Something more for adults’). We’ve enjoyed going round the table/bedroom and asking everyone their question, including the grown-ups. In fact, it’s quite fun to get the kids to ask the grown-ups their question and then have them rate your answer!
There’s also a wonderful ‘Top Tips’ appendix which is just so delightfully realistic. Ed is a dad of three and knows that as families ‘many of us are clinging on to sanity, joy, peace, hope or faith by our fingernails’. But he encourages parents to ‘set an expectation that this time together will be the highlight of the day’, which makes perfect sense yet how often do we even consider that? And then this gem: ‘remember, there is huge value in your children seeing their parents answering questions from the Bible, talking about their faith, showing that they don’t have all the answers and praying’. Again, so wise and obvious once you say it, but so easy to lose sight of.
So, if the idea of having a ‘family devotion’ or ‘Bible time’ terrifies you, whether from past experience or no experience, or if you feel you’re stuck in a rut or just need a breath of fresh air, Meals with Jesus is well worth getting hold of and giving a go. As Ed says, ‘One day, your children will thank you!’
You can pick up a copy of Meals with Jesus for just over a fiver from the publisher here.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, but I hope this is still a fair and honest review.