Thursday, December 05, 2013

A Christmas Carol (part two)

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2).

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

Charles Dickens was a firm believer in the potential for change in human beings.  Scrooge was in desperate need for transformation, and his old business partner Jacob Marley arrives as a ghost to effect that change.  Dickens enjoyed fairy tales, viewing them as stories designed to change the outlook and behavior of the children who heard them, so he used ghosts in his narrative to achieve a similar effect on the reader.  Marley had been Scrooge’s business partner, a man just like Scrooge himself—greedy and cold-hearted.  As a result of living a misdirected life, Marley was now condemned to an eternity in darkness, chained by the burden of a lifetime’s worth of regret.  Seven years into his everlasting torment, Marley warns Scrooge to change his heart before encountering the same fate.

The warning to change your ways before it is too late is Jesus’ message to all humanity.  But our God does not send ghosts from the afterlife to warn us.  He has sent angels in the past, prophets as well.  But the most compelling messenger of all is God’s own Son, born as a human on Christmas to bring us God’s message personally

The second act of the story starts when Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Looking back in time, Scrooge is reminded of the innocence and joy that he had left behind.  Happy Christmas parties with his friends and coworkers.  The blossoming of love with the woman of his dreams.  But we also see the darkness that will taint his soul—alone as a child at Christmas instead of celebrating with family.  Putting off marriage until he felt financially secure and losing the woman who loved him as a result.  In childhood Scrooge suffered hurts and made decisions that would darken his life as an adult.

As Christians, we know that no child is really innocent.  In Psalm 51 David writes, Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  This is just one way that Christ was different from us—He was the only child ever born truly innocent, untainted by sin.  Each of us is born into the darkness of corruption; each of us needs the light of Christ to fill our lives with the kind of joy that can overcome all misery.

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