Book Review: Hidden Christmas

Susan Harris
January 16, 2024


This book, Hidden Christmas, by the well-known and much-loved late Timothy Keller, is a timely read. Why read this; how will it help me engage with work colleagues? It is a call to action about how you can relate to them about Jesus at Christmas.

At Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is also the time of the biggest secular holiday in our culture. In Australia, it also coincides with the end of a school/academic year with a long summer holiday break.

Christmas, though, is undeniably commercial and therefore will remain around for some time. But the true meaning of it is becoming more and more hidden (p. 2). The buying and giving of gifts is a secular tradition, but it emanates from a natural response to the giving of Jesus into our world. The basic truths of Christmas give Christians an opportunity to share more easily with ’an enormous audience’.

In Hidden Christmas, Keller writes easy-to-follow chapters (there are 8*); each beginning with biblical verses from the Christmas narrative. He weaves together the Christmas message with a motive to connect the gospel to people. Humanity cannot save itself. On our own we cannot find inner peace. The message of Christmas is that there is hope, despite the pessimists and the optimists, both of whom do not have the answers. The light of the world has come from outside this world in human form, surprisingly as a baby (John 8:12). However, to accept the true Christmas gift, we must admit we are sinners and give up control of our lives.

A Light has Dawned
The Mother of Jesus
The Father of Jesus
Where is the King?
Mary’s Faith
The Shepherds’ Faith
A Sword in the Soul
The Doctrine of Christmas

Keller compares other religions and faiths with Christianity, but they give only ADVICE. The Christian faith is different; it is not a fairy tale, but it communicates and explains the GOOD NEWS (pp. 24, 26). No one will seek the Lord unless our hearts are supernaturally changed to want and seek him (p.70). Keller reminds us that even though we can commit ourselves to God, it is no guarantee that life will go well for Christians. However, when disappointments and difficulties do happen, they drive Christian believers more into the arms of God. Then, as time passes, believers become far more grounded, resilient, happy and wise (p. 95).

Keller urges readers to think about the truth of Christmas as it is through the person of Jesus that we see the glory of God (p. 134).

Do you hide Christmas? This book made me think about how I can take up opportunities to speak of Jesus at Christmas by focussing on relationships rather than the distractions of food preparation, tinsel, glitter and gifts. Keller’s book therefore has been a timely read for me – Christmas brings glad tidings of great joy.

Susan Harris is now retired from the education profession. She has enjoyed a productive and fulfilling working life in schools, while also enjoying a loving home life with husband Roger and, together, parenting 3 daughters.  Susan is now Nanna to 8 grandchildren. One of Susan’s loves has always been reading. Retirement has allowed more time and she has joined a Book Club. She also volunteers at Engage Work Faith and is a member of Rotary. Reading allows her to experience worlds beyond her own. Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: “We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.”

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