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Friday, December 20, 2013

"A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season" (Katherine Paterson)

TITLE: A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season
AUTHOR: Katherine Paterson
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, (185 pages).

This book is a collection of 15 Christmas stories to whet our literary appetite over the Christmas season. Although the title is based on the last story of the book, each story is designed to stand on its own merit. There is the story of a strange visitor selling Christmas greens, who was invited in for a cup of coffee, and asked for Mozart to be played. There is the interaction between a 65-year old grandmother with a little boy on a door to door mission for a Church project. There is even a story from Communist China, where a passage from Isaiah provides consolation amid a Cultural Revolution. Over and over, stories abound with strangers meeting strangers; family touching family; and friends; and stories of believers in other parts of the world struggling even with the most basic things like food and shelter. The story of a Japanese pastor meeting a young Korean child is a mixture of hardship living, evangelism, and letting Scriptures guide away one's fear and turn it to faith.

The author, Katherine Paterson is an award winning book, The Bridge to Terabithia, shares these stories that were written by her but read aloud by her husband, Rev Dr John Paterson at Christmas Eve services over the years. Written over a period of 40 years, the stories have been published at various places and is now conveniently packed in one book.

In contrast to the familiar Christmas daze, the shopping craze, and the traffic maze we encounter in a busy December holiday month, this book of Christmas stories shows us that Christmas is way more than Santa Claus, reindeers, caroling, or Church activities. It is about expectation, peace, hope, joy, faith, and the power of simple human love. We see how mercy is extended. We note how generosity if offered without being asked. We see how churches remain key places of gathering, even when retailers try to attract people to shop until they drop. Some stories looks back at the nativity scene while other stories look at the nature of human relationships and their interactions. Most significant of all, is the fact that stories come alive not because of gifts but because of the giving and receiving; the human element above the materialism and consumerism; the place of faith amid a climate of fear.  More importantly, the stories reflect ordinary lives in such a way that readers can jump in and say: "Hey! I can identify with that."

When this happens, one knows that the book is already a worthwhile read.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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