What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

A short story by Philip Van Doren Stern became a screenplay we know as “It’s a Wonderful Life”

When Philip Van Doren Stern’s 4,000-word short story “The Greatest Gift” failed to impress a prospective publisher, the writer and Civil War historian decided to print it himself. He sent it out as his Christmas card to family and friends in December 1943. The story had to do with a despondent man contemplating suicide who is given the opportunity to see what the world would have been like had he never been born.

One of those who happened upon this unique Christmas greeting was Hollywood director Frank Capra who bought the movie rights to the story for $10,000. Capra adapted The Greatest Gift into a screenplay and gave Stern’s story a new title. It’s a Wonderful Life was released as a motion picture in December, 1946.

What originated as a Christmas card became a movie released at Christmastime. And each Christmastime, It’s a Wonderful Life is shown multiple times. If it wasn’t for Christmas, we would never know the story of George Bailey. But more significantly, without Christmas our world would be drastically different.

British writer C. S. Lewis imagined such a dark, Christ-less planet in his brilliant children’s story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The world he conceived he called Narnia. Paralyzed under the frozen spell of the White Witch, it is a world in which it is “always winter but never Christmas.”

A world in which it is always winter but never Christmas would be a world in which the mail carrier stuffs your box with bills, bank statements, and third-class junk. No Christmas would mean no Christmas cards or caroling or gift giving. The world would be devoid of twinkling lights and festive decorations. By definition, a world without Christmas would be a world without Jesus.

The shock George Bailey felt as he wandered into the dark and depraved city limits of Pottersville is nothing when compared with what we would feel if our sin-infested planet had been denied the “Light of the World.” What worked as a brilliant literary motif in Stern’s story works as a startling exercise for those tempted to approach their faith casually. We would do well to ponder what our world would be like had Jesus Christ never been born.

If Jesus had never been born, not only would there be no Christmas, there would be no Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. Each one of those popular American holidays is based on (or somehow tied to) Christianity. But a world without Jesus would have even greater implications.

Can you imagine a world without the artistic masterpieces of the Renaissance largely influenced by the Christian message? Can you imagine a world without a boat named the Mayflower transporting victims of religious persecution to the New World determined to populate a land where faith could be freely practiced? Can you imagine a world without William Wilberforce and his Christian witness against slavery in Britain’s Parliament?

Can you imagine a world without George Frederic Handel’s immortal oratorio Messiah? Can you imagine science textbooks that do not include the findings of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, and Mendel all of whom embraced the Christ of history and were shaped by his teachings?

Can you imagine a world without universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and many others that were founded by Christians to train Christians? Can you imagine a world without Clara Barton and the lifesaving efforts that came from her Red Cross?

Can you imagine a world without General William Booth and his army of soldiers fighting on the frontlines of homelessness, hunger, and poverty? Can you imagine a world without Bill Wilson’s Twelve Steps or his Big Blue Book or the countless lives who have regained sobriety through the organization called Alcoholics Anonymous?

And furthermore, if Jesus had never been born, we would not have the assurance of forgiveness and confidence of the Creator’s acceptance and the wonderful life we were created to experience.

*This article is excerpted from “Finding God in It’s a Wonderful Life” by Greg Asimakoupoulos.

Greg’s book,
Finding God in
It’s a Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $2.99-$14.99
Lulu Books.

Thank God for Lucy!

December 13 is the feast day of Saint Lucia

A young girl born in Italy
would be remembered ‘cross the sea
for how she served humanity
without concern for honor.

With glowing candles on her head,
Lucia followed where God led
to comfort those she also fed
with saffron buns and coffee.

Her flickering flames would light the way
to where those jailed for faith would pray.
And so we honor her today
by serving those in crisis.


Sitting Near My Christmas Tree

Reflections on a Christmas Eve

While sitting near my Christmas tree
the lights that twinkle speak to me
recalling poignant memories
of happy times and sad

I visualize my mom and dad
and packages all wrapped in plaid
and buttered lefsa Nana had
to serve on Christmas Day.

I think about our relatives
and thoughtful gifts that they would give
and Grandpa’s prayer that we would live
to serve the newborn King.

I still recall our stereo
and records that we kids would know
by Mel Torme and Nat King Cole
(and the Chipmunks, too).

I can’t help picturing the past.
Somehow I thought those days would last.
Could I have known time moves so fast
as kids find their own way?

I pine for how it used to be
while sitting near this twinkling tree
and cherishing such memories
that time cannot erase.

The delightful image of this nostalgic Christmas scene was painted by my brother Marc Asimakoupoulos.

Finding God in “It’s a Wonderful Life”

You don’t have to look far to find Him

Finding God in Bedford Falls?
By George, I have. Will you?
Like Waldo He keeps showing up
amid the many clues.

He’s there at old man Gower’s store.
and in the Granville home.
You’ll find Him there at Harry’s prom
or as George prays alone.

He’s there beside young Zuzu’s bed
and at Martini’s bar.
To find the Lord within this film,
you need not look that far.

He’s there when Mr. Potter tries
to trap George in his web.
And He is there when George gives up
and wishes he was dead.

Although you’ll never see His face,
God’s fingerprints abound
within this movie millions love.
The plot is holy ground!

*Frank Capra’s timeless Christmas movie premiered on December 20, 1946 (exactly 75 years ago). Although it was nominated for five Academy Awards, it didn’t win any. What appeared at first to be a flop has become one of the most inspirational and popular films of all times. The following radio interviews were recently aired, interviewing Greg for his insights on the movie and the festival:

Dave Ross, CBS radio, interviews Greg Asimakoupoulos about IAWL Festival, 12/08/2021

Spirit 105.3 FM, Seattle’s Erica Parkerson interviews Greg on 12/22/2021

Gregg Hersholt, KOMO radio, features and interviews Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/24/2021

BBC Radio 4 Sunday Program, 12/26/2021, host William Crawley features Greg Asimakoupoulos discussing significant audio clips from the IAWL movie.

Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos was guest preacher at First United Methodist, Seneca Falls, NY 12/12/2021 at time of the “It’s a Wonderful Life Festival”.
(Video play button above will start video at the intro to sermon)

Greg’s book,
Finding God in
It’s a Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $2.99-$14.99
Lulu Books.

The Four Candles of Advent

Contemplating the message of the season

There’s hope and there’s peace, then there’s joy and then love.
The candles of Advent reveal
the season’s true essence, the heart of God’s heart
and the things that our world needs to heal.

Our hope keeps us trusting for what yet awaits.
We focus our gaze with a prayer
that what has been promised will come in God’s time
reflecting God’s light everywhere.

The peace that we long for and patiently strive
eludes us if left to ourselves.
Harmonious unions depend on God’s grace
that draws those at odds to God’s self.

Thank goodness for joy that comes out of the blue
giving songs in the night of despair.
Joy’s candle reminds us that we can give thanks
even when there are burdens to bear.

And don’t forget love that both warms and gives light
to those who approach Bethlehem.
What beckons us onward is knowing God came
to share in our plight as a man.