Book Review of Scott Hahn’s Joy to the World
Joy. It drowned me as I cradled my 8-day-old son in my arms and stared at the manger ornament that hung on our Christmas tree. For a moment in time, I had a glimpse of the joy that Blessed Mother must have felt when she held her own firstborn son, the Son of God, on that very first Christmas two millennia ago. In that still moment, I realized that I could sit here on Christmas, experiencing the joy that comes from not only being a new mother, but from being such a prized and beloved daughter of God, because God became man, entering time to show me that I was worth dying for, to show me that this joy that I felt so palpably now could last into eternity, thanks to His sacrifice and grace.
For many years prior, I had fallen into the commercialism funk that plagues so many of us during the Advent and Christmas seasons. It became too easy to focus on the giant list of presents to purchase, the cookies to bake, and the parties to attend, and somehow, in the midst of all these supposedly happy activities, there was no joy. Happiness didn’t last far beyond the opening of the gifts under the tree or even after the beautiful Christmas liturgy. But last Christmas, in front of the manger on the Christmas tree, I rediscovered that joy for the first time in years. I was re-amazed at the wonder of Christmas.
As I approached Advent this year with no life-changing event (like the birth of another child) on the horizon, I realized how important it was to me that I still feel that same rich and lasting joy. Christ’s birth should constantly amaze us, and then re-amaze us, every year. So among the many religious activities my husband and I have going on in our home this year to help our family prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas with renewed joy, we are ecstatic that Dr. Scott Hahn’s new book, Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does) published by Image Books, will help us in our efforts to make this Advent a truly meaningful period of preparation to welcome Christ at Christmas and then celebrate the joy that only begins on Christmas morning.
Dr. Hahn’s book lives up to what it promises. It continues to inspire in me amazement at how the birth of Christ changes everything and is the secret to lasting Christmas joy, rather than fleeting Christmassy happiness. He shows the reader that when you take time to look more deeply into the mysterious Christmas story with its unusual cast of characters and its unconventional heroic family at the center of the action, you give your own family the opportunity to celebrate a Christmas that lasts beyond Christmas day. When I interviewed Dr. Hahn about the book, he mentioned how the Christmas story is “complex…dark, but with sudden bursts of glory.” When was the last time you thought of the Christmas story like that? It’s time to be reengaged in the narrative. This story will help your joy to build during Advent, leading to an explosion on Christmas that lasts until the Epiphany…long after the commercial stores have taken down their trees and tinsel.
As the spiritual leaders of our family, my husband and I recognize how important it is to instill in our family religious traditions, especially meaningful Christmas traditions. Dr. Hahn’s book presents a powerful reminder that “the family is the key to Christmas.” He demonstrates how “the truth of Christmas begins with a family” and is “passed on by way of families” and then offers a powerful, stirring narrative that awakens in the heart a desire to pass on the most beautiful story ever told to your own family, creating a tradition that will far surpass any other Advent and Christmas activity in your home.
As with Dr. Hahn’s other titles, this book is relatable, understandable, and filled with biblical teaching that is as easy to follow as it is captivating and thought-provoking. In his final chapter, he reminds us that Christmas is what sets us as Christians apart. When you demonstrate the joy and love that Christmas inspires in you to your own family and to others you encounter, you will become a powerful witness to the Gospel and the utter amazement that comes with celebrating the birth of Christ. But first, you must be re-amazed.