Though most folks don’t consider me a sentimental person, there is one picture book that makes me cry every time I read it–The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. It’s a story of death, and loss, and transformation. When a bitter woodcarver agrees to make a replacement nativity for a widow and her young son, he finds that he must deal with the innocent persistence of childhood. As readers, we find ourselves caught between real sorrow and real hope: death and separation, life and relationship. What is the truth of this world?
It’s a terrific book with beautiful, sensitive illustrations by P. J. Lynch. I hear it’s been made into both a play and a movie, but I find I don’t even want to see the adaptations. It’s complete as it is. If you were here, we could read it together and think about all the wonderful nativities we’ve shared this season. We could talk about why these figures become so precious to us, and why we bring them out, year after year. And then, maybe we could talk about the mysteries of Christmas and the incarnation, and how we get a little closer to understanding the reality of hope and joy in this life every time we set up the manger.