Friday, January 27, 2017

Loyalties that Go Beyond Borders

Picture Book: Grandfather’s Journey
Author & Illustrator: Allen Say
Summary: Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, this beautiful story is about an immigrant who comes to the United States as a young man from Japan. 
Fascinated with the American geography, 
American industry, 
America's beauty, 
and people of The United States, 
Grandfather would walk for days just to experience his new country. 
Once settled in California, he returned to Japan to bring home a bride. 
They had a daughter. 
When she was nearly grown, Grandfather missed his homeland so much that his family returned to Japan to live. Then he missed America. 
In Japan, his daughter married and gave birth to the author who loved hearing of Grandfather’s America. 
Grandfather longed to visit America again, but WWII prevented his return.
When the author was nearly grown, he too moved to America.
Quickly he began to understand why Grandfather had loved America so deeply despite missing his homeland of Japan.
Hanna’s Comments: This story is deeply personal, but the grandfather’s emotions are shared by millions of people across the globe whose patriotism includes places beyond their country of origin. I am struck by the people all over the world who participated in The Women’s March. These beyond border connections make our world community more like family. How does this relate to scripture? Consider the loyalty the Jews always have for Jerusalem despite their distance from it. The foreign crowds at Pentecost are proof. How about the Irish? They have a contagious enthusiasm for life and unyielding love for St. Patrick, a man of God all Christians should know well. All over the world seekers find themselves on pilgrimages to spiritual places such as Iona (Scotland), the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Lordes (France), or The Vatican. These are Christian pilgrimages, but many sacred sites that are not "Christian" still summon a reverence from visitors no matter their spiritual heritage. When sacred sites are destroyed. We all lose. When we have strong relationships with people across oceans, our world is smaller. When we visit another country and see God’s creative diversity, we can be grateful. Our belief in God’s abundance leaves no room for a scarcity model of love, beauty, or loyalty.
Original Publisher & Date: Houghton Mifflin, 1993
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: Tablet, audio
Scripture Connections: Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people…” (Ruth 1:16); (Jesus) came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10); every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a small group of adults in a lesson about patriotic zeal and connections across borders. Emphasize that our loyalties to multiple countries and their citizens doesn’t divide our allegiance. Instead, the love God instills in us for diverse places and persons demonstrates God’s abundant gifts and our gratitude.