Thursday, December 17, 2015

James Calvin Schaap’s “Finding Christmas”

What we celebrate at Christmas is about many things, and one of those things is grace, that outpouring of God’s love where it is often most undeserved – us.

The stories in Finding Christmas: Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace by James Calvin Schaap are about that – underserved grace, grace falling on the undeserving, the people dealing with the brokenness in their lives and in the lives of those they love.

Finding Christmas is comprised of seven stories, each with both a title and a subtitle. In “The Baby / Forgetting Jesus,” an eighth grader playing Mary in a Sunday school Christmas play has to find a doll to play the Baby Jesus.  In “The Party: Facts of Life,” a grandmother hungers to touch the granddaughter she’s not allowed to talk with. In “The Gifts / She’ll Love It,” a mother wrestles with believing she may have loved one daughter too much and the second a teenager pregnant and wanting to keep the baby.

“The Church / Finding Something,” a mother despairs of her professionally successful daughter who’s lost all interest in the church of her youth. “The Pageant / First Cry in the Stable” has a child learning a lesson about animals and living on a farm. In “The Afterglow / Merry Madness,” a worker in a home for abandoned children discovers grace on New Year’s Eve. And in “the Snowfall / Joy and Miracle,” a man discovers that Jesus came for all of the needy, including the educated, sophisticated elitists like himself.
James Schaap

James Schaap in an emeritus professor of literature and writing at Dordt College in Sioux City, Iowa. He’s a novelist and short story writer, and has also written several devotional books. His most recent book is Reading Mother Teresa: A Calvinist looks lovingly at “the little bride of Christ.” He blogs at Stuff in the Basement.

These stories of everyday, recognizable people – children, cafeteria workers, an actor, a pregnant teenager, mothers and grandmothers – are exactly what Christmas is about.

Photograph by Rostislav Kralik via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

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