Thursday, November 6, 2014

If He Had Not Come- A Classic Christmas Story {A TOS Review}

Christmas Book Review

It's hard to believe, but another year is quickly coming to a close and it is time to start thinking about the holidays. Christmas will be here before we know it. Will we get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Where will your focus be? Where will my focus and the focus of my family be? It is so important to me that the children grow up knowing the true meaning of Christmas. That is why I jumped at the chance to review this wonderful new Christmas book by David Nicholson called If He Had Not Come. Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have dreams of this book becoming part of our Christmas traditions for years to come. 

The author, David Nicholson, is actually reintroducing a story he himself heard years ago in his adult Sunday School class. The story was originally written by Nan F. Weeks in the 1930's, and Mr. Nicholson wanted to share it with a new generation. It has been thirty years since he originally heard the story and he has continued the tradition of sharing this thought-provoking story every Christmas, as I would love to do.

What is so special about this story that it needs to be shared? Through this simple picture book that tells the story of young Bobby discovering a world where Jesus had not come, we can understand the importance of the impact that Jesus has made on the world and why it is so important to be honoring him.

The story begins as Bobby hangs his stocking and heads off to bed after the daily Bible time with his father. As he makes his way to bed, he is anticipating opening presents on Christmas morning, which is of course, very typical of all children. However, he is also focusing on some words his father read from the Bible, "If I had not come," which is found in John 15:22 when Jesus is talking to his disciples. 

The words running through his brain cause him to have a dream, which he of course does not realize is a dream. In the dream, he is woken up by a loud voice and heads downstairs, focused on the presents he is sure are coming. Unfortunately, he is greeted by an undecorated house devoid of those precious presents. This, however, is not the extent of his discoveries. As he tries to find answers to what is going on, he finds out that many places are missing or changed in his town. Where once stood the church he attended, he finds an empty lot with these words posted:

He discovers the absence of the hospital, children's home, and shelter. He in confronted with hostility, brusqueness, and impatience. He is confused when he realizes that people have no clue what Christmas even is! Along the way his focus has shifted from himself and his presents, to helping others. He discovers the Children's Home is gone when he tries to stop by to watch them open their gifts. He discovers both the hospital and shelter are gone as he tries to help an old man. Everywhere he goes he is confronted with the words, "If I had not come."

In his dream, he makes his way home to get his parents to help. While there, he picks up the Bible only to discover the entire New Testament is empty. He realizes all the things that would be missing in our world if Jesus had not come as he is awakened by the sound of church bells.

Thus, he starts his Christmas morning focused an Jesus. Before going down to breakfast he prays, showing gratitude to Jesus for coming to earth and promising to be the kind of boy he knows Jesus wants him to be.

In the back of the book, you will find several pages of ways to extend the story. There are interactive topics for either families or Sunday School teachers to discuss after reading the book. The "Going Deeper" section by Josh Mulvihill lists 4 questions for further study on the importance of Jesus coming to earth. The ABC's of the Gospel message is shared. The final section gives thoughts on how the Christmas tree reminds us of Jesus.

We have read this book a couple of times now before bedtime. The first time we read it I didn't really get into reading any questions. The second time we discussed the interactive topics questions, thinking about how things would be different in our own lives if Jesus had not come. I asked what they think of when they first wake up on Christmas morning and was pleased to hear Amelia mention she thinks about it being Jesus' birthday. I confessed to the girls that my focus was always on the presents under the tree. Yes, church would come later, but I admit Christmas morning was all about which presents were whose and whether I got what a wanted. I told them, that I was never really taught that we should be focusing on Jesus and that I was pleased that they know the true meaning of the holiday.

I plan on discussing the Going Deeper section with them as a part of our school time in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Though we don't have a tree, we do talk about the different symbols and how they represent Jesus. I think this year we will be focusing on that a bit more, maybe be making Christmas present for Jesus as I did in the past with my older children.

I have to say, I was thrilled to catch Tabitha reading the book by herself. I had to capture a picture of the older girls looking at it together.

As I have stated, it is important to me for our children to grow up knowing the true meaning of Christmas. If He Had Not Come goes beyond this by sharing how different this world might be if Jesus hadn't come. The reader will really start to think about the impact that Jesus and his followers had on this world. Though there is no way of knowing for sure what this world would look like if Jesus hadn't come, it is important to realize what Christians throughout history have contributed to this world, things we don't realize have a Christian influence, things we take for granted. For me, this book has piqued my curiosity and I plan to do some research into the origins of hospitals, children's homes, homeless shelters and more. 

The book is a wonderful addition to our library. It is one we will treasure and bring out each Christmas to read and ponder.  Each double page spread has one page of text in easy to read font, while the other page is devoted to the illustration. You can tell when Bobby is dreaming because the colors are muted, with an old fashioned feel to them, while the pictures in reality are bright and colorful. 

I received a hardback copy of If He Had Not Come as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. This story is geared for ages 6 and up, but I have read it to all the children at the same time as we usually do. Harold was a bit restless, but as he is 2 years old this is quite normal for him. 

You can purchase If He Had Not Come for $18.95. 

You can also find If He Had Not Come on Facebook.

Don't forget to check out what me fellow crew mates thought of this book.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

1 comment:

  1. Christmas stories have been around in my family since I was a kids. We always read stories during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the kids around the tree and fireplace. It is a tradition in our family. And we would love to add this one to our collection.


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