I love this time of year - planning surprises and getting our Advent Book Basket ready, so it was perfect timing when we were offered the chance to review If He Had Not Come.
If He Had Not Come is a classic Christmas story that has been reintroduced to a new generation by David Nicholson, a retired teacher, who first heard this story over 30 years ago. He teamed up with Charles Jaskiewicz to do the illustrations and between them they have created this breathtakingly beautiful book filled with thought provoking questions.
We used this book as part of our read aloud time - we snuggled up on the sofa and I read the story to the girls. The story starts with the family's Christmas preparations and Bobby reading John 15:22 with his dad. While Booby gets ready for bed the words form the scripture keep repeating themselves to him “If I had not come..."
This sparks an adventure where Christmas, kindness, charity and good works seem to have disappeared because Jesus had not come. The story concludes with Bobby gaining a new Christ centred perspective to Christmas.
We concluded our read aloud with a discussion sparked by the questions posed at the end of the book - questions like:
'When you hear someone calling you to get up on Christmas morning, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?'
'What are some other things that would be different if Jesus had not come to earth?'
'What would our life be like without him?'
'What do you think sin is?"
The open ended questions are great for either a family or for a Sunday School session. I utilised a number of the suggested scriptures from the 'going deeper' section to enrich our discussion. A good example of this was the question 'Why did Jesus come to earth?" with many scripture references like John 1:29 & Luke 19:10.
Rose (6) and Tulip (8) both enjoyed the activity section and loved learning how Christmas trees can remind us of Christ.
Reading this together has really given us food for thought, It's been great to see the girls really considering the impact that Christ has had on earth, how his teachings have affected the lives and attitudes of people and what it really means to them. I've even had them pointing out that the Red Cross workers wouldn't be there if Jesus hadn't come.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book - the story is simple enough to engage all ages, the illustrations are beautiful and the way it prompts you to thoughtfully consider have made it a new Christmas staple for us.
If He Had Not Come is suggested for ages 6 up and is available for $18.95 (an ebook is also available).
You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS blog.