As a villain, Ebenezer Scrooge ranks up there at very near the top.There are few if any who are more well known than Scrooge! Every year as Christmas draws closer, so multiply the movies based on Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. I am one who has seen nearly every A Christmas Carol movie and television show; I even listen to Old Time Radio shows featuring an Ebenezer Scrooge. Each rendering provides a different understanding to the story. However, it is the original story which speaks most clearly to me, especially about Grace.
Dickens characters come alive before my very eyes or ears if I’m listening to the story on the radio, each representing some portion of my life. It’s all out there, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe it is in this story of redemption I most clearly see my need.
Sitting in judgement over someone, deciding who they are, what they feel, what they believe has and continues to be rampant in Christianity today. Even though we are directly commanded by Jesus, the only one Who has the right to sit in judgement, Do Not Judge, we continue to find reasons to be discerning. Now this is an area I know way too much about! As intensely as I hate to hear anyone declaring they know all about someone else, I find I too am caught in the trap. Judging is a trap, a most dangerous trap that destroys the judge and the one being judged. It is far too easy to think I can know someone based on what I see! When in reality we know nothing of another persons story except what we are shown. Whether what is shown to us is by accident or design, it is still only a part of any story.
Let’s take a look at Bob Crachit, his employer sees him as week, next to useless, worth nothing. In Bob’s office is a fire so small it is hardly recognizable as a fire. Mr. E. Scrooge keeps the door between their adjacent offices open so he can keep Bob away from any more coal. And if Bob makes a move towards the coal, Scrooge declares it must be time for them to part company! Bob crawls back to his office, crawls back into his chair, and tries to carry on with his work.“Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of strong imagination, he failed.”
As we are left contemplating poor Bob, Scrooge’s outer door bursts open to the hearty greeting of, “A Merry Christmas, Uncle, God save you!” This declaration is followed by an incredibly energized young man. The resemblance is unmistakable, yet there is in the young an aura of naive innocence. His joy in the holiday season is almost contagious. Actually, unless you had shut your heart to love, he was wonderfully contagious! So palpable was this energy it overwhelmed Scrooge like a tsunami; it embraced Bob in the warmest of comforters!
Three men, each one quite different from the other, and at the same time very much alike. One incredibly wealthy, able to provide for himself all the comforts afforded by the era in which he lived. Another man, one so timid many of us might find it difficult to even describe him as a man, huddles in front of a candle, trying to catch the tiniest bit of warmth. It is tempting to dismiss him as one of no value, without purpose. He does’t have to put up with all that Scrooge dishes out! Or does he? Thirdly, the man with all the energy of youth, hope springing eternal from the artesian well residing at the core of who he is. Three men responding to what many call the best time of the year, a time when peace, joy, the well-being of others is wont to be a high priority.
For many it is the time of the year when they see how truly needy is mankind! For others it is the most painful time of year, the time when loved one are most missed. It is the time when many recognize how desperate is their situation. Many find this season a challenging competition, struggling to out maneuver, to out give everyone else. For these, the season may be defined as, “He who has the mist toys wins.” This slogan could be humorous as a bumper sticker, but rather less amusing as a life style.
During this time, this season of warmth and love many contemplate taking their own life. Most of us would be shocked if we knew just how many of those we love find themselves focused in on an eternal rest, because they find the idea of that release from loneliness appealing, at least for them, when all the pain ends: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. As a matter of fact some of you reading this right now may be contemplating the thought of, “Just let it all be over!”
We have an opportunity to experience and to help others experience Christmas in new and exciting ways. Here is my list of the top three: First, ask God to give a heart of compassion in exchange for a heart of stone. Secondly, ask God’s deliverance from the destruction of judging, whether doing it or on the receiving end. Thirdly, ask God to heal the attitudes which are causing destruction, ask God for the ability to see life and others through His eyes. Celebrate the life saving gift Jesus was, is, and will always be. Celebrate all of His children along with Him, celebrate who we are in Jesus Christ. Tell someone how much you love them, how much you need them, how much you want them.
This season can be a time when we all receive what we want most, to love and be loved. This can be the time we ask God to give us a 1 Corinthians 13 heart, mind and soul!
God has placed us with those He has given to us as gifts, presents to celebrate. Take time to consider, ponder, meditate on the possibilities of life as joy. Let the Celebration begin and let it continue throughout all eternity!
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David. See, I have made Him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has endowed you with splendor. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…..”
Isaiah 55:1-8 NIV
Quotations from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens