Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Carol (part three)

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst offender (1 Timothy 1:15).

In the last devotion, we were looking at Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Today we continue our examination of this very familiar story.

In Act Three of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge has been moved to regret for the joys in life that he chose to walk away from.  Now he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is tasked with showing the miser how other people are celebrating the holiday.  Scrooge finds his austere home now richly decorated with green—holly, mistletoe and ivy.  The room is lit and warmed by a roaring fire, and the spirit is seated on a throne of every kind of food and drink.  Scrooge is shown what he has been long denying himself.

Next is a tour of the streets of London, where people shout greetings to each other as they shovel snow and shoppers carry home the finest foods they can afford to serve for dinner.  Then, after church services are concluded, the time came to visit a few homes.  First up, the house of Scrooge’s employee Bob Cratchet, a humble dwelling where a large family enjoyed a dinner they could scarce afford, and a young disabled child reminded everyone to seek God’s blessings on their gathering—a sickly child that the spirit predicted would soon die if things did not look up for the Cratchets.  After this, the ghost took Scrooge to see other poor folk celebrating the holiday.  Finally they arrived at the home of Scrooge’s nephew to see the dinner and relatives Scrooge had been invited to join but had brusquely turned down.  Even though others in the room had no love for the old miser, his nephew stood up for him, loving Scrooge despite his faults.  Games and merriment followed, making the old man wish to stay just a bit longer before it was time to leave.

In writing these scenes, Dickens wanted his readers to join Scrooge in feeling guilty for hoarding his wealth instead of sharing it.  The author decorated Scrooge’s home with ancient symbols of pagan celebration—mistletoe and holly.  But although church services are mentioned in the narrative, Christ is not.  Yet clearly, Jesus is what Ebenezer needs.  The old man is starting to regret the decisions that he’s made—who can offer solace and forgiveness except God’s one and only Son?  Jesus loves us all as Scrooge’s nephew loved the old miser, loves us despite our faults.  Without Jesus, no Christmas celebration will have the kind of joy that it could have, the kind of joy that it should have.

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