This was one of those times.
We got a chance to review the children's book called If He Had Not Come This is actually a story by Nan F. Weeks that is being reintroduced to this new generation through David Nicholson. (Fun little side note - I always love when I get stuff that is connected to Minnesota. David Nicholson lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and Pastor Josh Mulvihill - who wrote some of the discussion questions in the back of the book, is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.)
On the surface, it is just what is says it is, a sweet, Christmas, children's book.
The story depicts what the world would be like if Jesus had never come to earth. You know, a little like how the movie It's A Wonderful Life, shows what the world would be like without George Bailey.
Sounds simple, right?
Sounds sweet, right?
It was. It was a simple, quick read to the kids. I just read this one to my three youngest as part of our quiet time (Circle Time) after lunch.
I read it the old-fashioned way....like the library lady used to do at my school. I sat on a chair. The kids sat in a semi-circle at my feet. I read upside down while I showed them the pictures. (By the way, the longer you read upside down, the freakier it is....your brain keeps trying to tell you that you are doing it wrong, the words sort of morph into hieroglyphics, but somehow, your mouth keeps on reading the words the right way....like it is taunting your brain or something!)
The book starts out colorful, with a traditional Christmas scene.
As it moves on into the....If He Had Not Come part.....and the boy, Bobby, realizes that his world has changed, it looks more stark...
The book has discussion questions included in the back of the book.
The simplest questions are ones like:
When you get up Christmas morning, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?
Put yourself in Bobby's shoes, would you be frightened?
There are also "deeper" questions that delve into what the Bible says about why Jesus came to earth and how things would be different if Jesus had not come to earth as a baby.
All it took to get the kids rolling on the discussion was one I asked.
What would look different in our lives look different if Jesus hadn't come?
The list they came up with went on and on and on.
It started with the fact that we would have no place to go on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. That spiraled into the fact that we would never have met many, many, many of the people that are our friends (both from our Minnesota church and our Georgia church).
Then we started listing off the churches we drive by that wouldn't be there anymore. Truly, down here in the South, there is just about a church on every corner. Really. They are all over the place.
The discussion moved onto the decorations in our house. "That cross wouldn't be there" "That picture of Jesus and the children wouldn't be there."
Of course, they also focused on the fact that we wouldn't have a Christmas tree, sing Christmas carols, or have a reason to hang stockings from the mantle....and then, onto Easter, where there would be no sunrise service, or Easter baskets.
I sort of let them just have the conversation without me, just popping in every now and then with my own observations, because........
I was having an internal discussion of my own.
I was remembering that the first time I sang in public was at church, when I was around 5 years old. That wouldn't have happened. West Bethel United Methodist Church and Red Rock Bible camp were huge parts of my childhood. Those would be gone. Coming down to breakfast every morning and seeing my Dad sitting there with his bowl of Cheerios, reading his devotions/Bible....then silently pushing the Bible across the table to me so I could read it, would no longer be one of my memories. Singing in the church choir, going Christmas caroling, Vacation Bible School as a kid and later as a director, being Mary in the Christmas play (the most coveted role for any little girl!). Those things wouldn't have happened.
I wouldn't have gone to Vennard Bible College, which means my parents wouldn't have given me the Bible that they wrote the personal message in. I wouldn't have met Stuart (who broke my heart and stomped on it), but, I also wouldn't have met Alicia (one of my very best friends who I met my first night on campus). I would have never been to Honduras on mission trips.
I would have never sang the Hallelujah chorus. I wouldn't have visited so many churches singing at my friends weddings. My sisters and I wouldn't have sang The King Is Coming at my Dad's funeral. My mom wouldn't cry every time she hears the song Amazing Grace. I wouldn't have attended church in all the countries we have visited. I never would have felt a connection with those people....even though I didn't speak their language. Those countries would also be missing out on a lot of beautiful architecture!
When we moved to Georgia, I wouldn't have had a safe place to fall apart/cry and, ultimately, make friends.
Rainman and I wouldn't have the common bond of being believers in Jesus/Christianity, even though we worship at different denominations. What would that do to our relationship? When we lost our babies, we wouldn't have had the comfort of knowing that we will see them all again someday in heaven. They would have just died..and been.....gone.
Simple children's Christmas book.....but, not really.
Our lives and the world around us would be totally and completely different.
Reading this will become a family tradition in our house, right alongside The Night Before Christmas.....because really.....If He Had Not Come....there would be no Night Before Christmas.
You can get a copy of this book, just in time to usher in the Christmas season, for $18.95, or an ebook for $3.95. I recommend the physical version though...to me, it just felt....right.
See what other TOS Reviewers thought of If He Had Not Come.