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Scott Hahn's Joy To The World--A Book Review

alec vanderboom

Christmas is a hard Feast Day for me to celebrate reverently. There is so much outside noise and agitation leading up to this holiday. I can't get my kids to whittle down their Christmas wish list to something below the Gross National Product of Denmark. I'm stumped by the simple download process for Christmas Cards on Shutterfly. My sugar cookies fall apart. I've lost the box where I stored our Advent wreath.

Christmas is about absorbing the Mystery of the Incarnation. Dr. Scott Hahn's new book, Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does) is a great Advent read. It's such a grace to find a calm, encouraging, and scholarly work written by a lay person, instead of a priest.

Dr. Hahn lives my life! He travels in long lines at the airport during Christmas. His daughter was not thrilled to witness the scene of the Nativity firsthand. Dr. Hahn's moments of grace around the Advent wreath are rudely shattered by his children's fights over who gets to blow out all the Advent candles first.

Joy to the World is a sympathetic read about the challenges of celebrating the mystery of Christmas within the context of modern life. Yet Dr. Hahn encourages me to peer deeper into the familiar Christmas Story. I learned enough historical facts about the paranoid King Herod to satisfy almost all of the curious questions asked by my 10 year old son. I gained new appreciation for the socially snubbed shepherds and the wandering Magi.

Dr. Hahn is at his best with a brilliant chapter on St. Joseph. Dr. Hahn reminds us that even though St. Joseph "had no biological role to play in the conception of Jesus... this does not make Joseph any less of a father." Some Christians describe St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus in order to protect an understanding of "Mary's virginity and God's fatherhood." However, Dr. Hahn convincingly argues that "the simple fact is that an adoptive father is as much a father as a natural father is."

Joy to the World ends with the shocking statement, "Salvation arrives by way of the family--the Holy Family." This book didn't nag me about all the extra things I should do this Advent. This book encourages me to reflect on who I am this Advent.  The Church is the family of God! Christmas is our chance to reflect on all the wonderful and diverse people who helped welcome the Infant Jesus into the world.

I'm thankful to Dr. Hahn for helping me sing the hymn of Joy to the World with extra gusto this year!
Many thanks to all the bloggers who participated in the Image Books Joy to the World Blog Tour from Dec 1 to Dec 11. To read all the reviews click here. To buy your copy of Joy to the World click here.