We don’t have a lot of Christmas traditions in the Armstrong home, but there are a few (and not just the one to two week window for how long we have a tree up). Our traditions tend to center around books we like to read around the holidays. I’ll usually wind up reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by myself, and we cycle in a few different family options. Last year, we introduced the family to Scott James’ excellent little devotional The Expected One. Every day was a beautiful time of exploring the build-up to the birth of Jesus. When we were done, my son immediately demanded that we start over again.
Recently, we received a lovely gift in the mail: The Littlest Watchman, James’ brand-new book for children (illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez). The story is the tale of a little boy named Benjamin, whose family have an important job: watching a stump for a sign of the arrival of a promised King.
Through this imaginary tale of waiting and anticipation, James offers a re-telling of the promise that began in the garden—that God would send a rescuer for his people, a promise reiterated again and again in different ways: a son of Eve. Abraham’s offspring. A son of David. The shoot of Jesse.
But I think where this book succeeds most, aside from the joy it brought my son—
—He has insisted on reading it again and again since it arrived, by the way.
Aside from that joy, where James really succeeds is giving a voice to the lingering doubt that can creep in. After all, the promise had been made and restated for centuries. And before Christ finally arrived the first time, it had been 400 years since God had sent a prophet. Maybe the promise wasn’t really true. Maybe it was all pretend. Maybe…
As another of our favorite children’s book reminds us, waiting is not easy.
The Littlest Watchman is an excellent addition to our family’s library of children’s literature, and one well-worth reading in the lead-up to Christmas. It is sure to be a blessing to your family.
Title: The Littlest Watchman
Author: Scott James
Publisher: The Good Book Company (2017)