“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”
Scrooge trembled more and more.
“Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since. It is a ponderous chain!” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
In my mind, A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption. No, it is not the story behind Christmas. It cannot save your soul, only Jesus Christ can do that. (Just ask him.)
Nonetheless, I return to the message of this story time after time. I have four versions that I watch over and over again well into January when the kids start to complain. Maybe they will appreciate it more when they have lived long enough to experience the Scrooge and Cratchit dynamic a bit more themselves. But I digress…
The life’s details of every human who fades in and eventually out of this life is made up of choices. Our own choices, other people’s choices….these all shape our experiences for good or ill during our time here. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s life is also made of choices which he makes in response to the priorities he puts on different “assets”. Money he regards more highly than pretty much everything including love, friendship, family, and even his own personal comfort.
Habitually, Scrooge shuts himself off from the rest of humanity as he doggedly pursues his goal of amassing more and more wealth. Huddled into himself, thinking only of himself, he is brought face to face with the consequences he has chosen to ignore his whole life. In his search to find wealth, security, independence, he has lost everything.
All along the way, his life has had an unexpected impact. His influence, he learns, is greater than he supposes. His reach is considerable, as is his reputation. For one man to possess so much and yet do so little good with it for anyone including himself is unforgivable. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come presents Scrooge with a terrible opportunity to hear the way people talk about him after he has died. He is reviled, disrespected, hated, and universally abused. No one mourns him. No one misses him. He ends his miserly life in disgrace and ill-favor. How sad! How wasteful! How needless!
How nonetheless true of so many like him! However, as the story goes, Scrooge has his eyes opened the night the spirits visited him. The light of the truth of what he was as well as what he could be dawned upon him with utter clarity. His story is a powerful reminder to us all that we have a hope for change as long as we have life in our bodies.
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
A deeper, eternal change can be wrought in a heart where the true Light of the Season, namely, Jesus Christ resides. The coming of the infant Christ paved the way for the Light which came into a world that did not want it. The world has been pushing against the Light ever since. Hurting, we reject our Healer. Lonely, we reject our Friend. Dying, we reject the Risen One. Utterly helpless, we reject our Helper. Hopefully, even this moment can be an opportunity for change. This season of remembrance of Christ’s birth can be for someone a dawn of life lived for Christ’s sake! All that is necessary is for you to open the door to Jesus. Only His continual presence in your life can teach you the true meaning of life as well as the purpose of Christmas itself. What would Jesus do? Jesus would love your fellow man, through you!
“So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.” ~ James 1:19-28