Father and Son: A Nativity Story

Father and Son: A Nativity Story
Geraldine McCaughrean & Fabian Negrin
Hyperion, 2006

I haven’t come across many Advent and Christmas books that do a truly great job of communicating the meaning of the Incarnation.  To be sure, there are many well-done books that faithfully retell the Nativity story, but most don’t go beyond the basic Luke 2 storyline to comment on what it really means that God became man.

Admittedly, when I picked up Father and Son I was expecting a sentimental Father’s Day-ish take on the Christmas story.  (I should have known better, since the author also wrote The Jesse Tree!)  In fact, Father and Son is one of the most profound Christmas book I’ve ever read.  You open the book to find Mary and Jesus asleep on Christmas night and Joseph musing over his job of parenting God incarnate:

I am a carpenter, child.  By rights, you should learn my trade.  But how can I teach you to plane a door, knowing it was you who planed the plains, who carved the valleys and hewed the hills, the wind in your one hand and rain in the other?

See what I mean?  This is a Christmas book that’s wonderfully unlike the others I have on my shelves.  You and your children will be awed afresh at the truth of Emmanuel, God with us, as Joseph’s breath was taken away to think of the task set before him.  Jesus wasn’t like the prophets before him, a human instrument chosen by God for a special mission: he was God himself!  And yet… he was also fully human.  That is the glorious, mind-boggling mystery of Christmas told by this book.

Geraldine McCaughrean knows that she is, in a sense, putting words in Joseph’s mouth.  From the author’s note: “Never in his life did Joseph have to grapple with the difficult notion of the Trinity… but how, after such an extraordinary beginning, could Joseph not have realized that the boy in his care was in some way divine?”  Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me whether Joseph actually pondered the Incarnation on the night following Jesus’ birth.  The story told in Father and Son is true either way.

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