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A Christmas Carol Revisited

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It may be somewhat strange writing this in May, but, if you haven’t read the Charles Dickens classic, surely you have seen or heard one of the many adaptions of his book. With over one-hundred radio, television, big screen and other such media representations of A Christmas Carol, the timeless story of tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge ranks near the literary top of most beloved story-telling. Being swept away by the ghostly characters taking Scrooge on a journey through time, though, we tend to get caught up in the spooky side of the story and miss the side Dickens may well have wanted his readers to see most. Influenced by a disturbing childhood, he both loved and demonized his father, hence the two sides of Scrooge; and as an adult, he was grief-stricken by children living in poverty, thus Tiny Tim. Having walked both among the affluent and seen first-hand an appalling lot of poverty stricken children working in the Cornish tin mines, Dickens recognized a spiritual condition of the heart and not a social issue was at play, so enters into the story Marley’s ghost, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. To Dickens, the suffering of the poor existed as a result of the miserly, those who chose to hold onto their blessed status turning a deaf ear to the silent cries of the less fortunate and needy. We need not look any further than our televisions where the advertisements of organizations like, “Feed the Children” testify to Dickens being right even today. Was it an ironic twist of fate that resulted in Ebenezer’s transformation on Christmas day, a masterful piece of storytelling by Dickens, or was it a purposeful effort of the storytellers pen to point his audience to what he believed the cure for tight-fisted, hard-heartedness to be? I think the latter to be true; a spiritual condition must be met with a spiritual response. As I revisit the book, I see in Scrooge a similarity between his character and the words of James 5:1-6 which read: “Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you (NLT). The bottom line is this, Jesus told us in Luke 12:48, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required” (NLT). As was pointed out by Pastor Randy Wade of the Community Life Church in this past Sunday’s sermon from James 5, those of you reading this today are among the wealthy elite when placed on a global scale. We are to the world’s majority what Bill Gates is to us. Knowing this to be true, as followers of Christ we should be faithful to invest in the work of the gospel on the behalf of others as others invested in the work of the gospel on our behalf; for “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29 NLT). Might you see yourself somewhere between the pages of Dickens' “A Christmas Carol”? After that Scrooge had a spiritual awakening, he woke up on Christmas morning with a new heart and attitude towards giving that changed not only his life and the Cratchit family but an entire town. There is so much joy to be found in giving, so much good that when we surrender all to Christ we find ourselves happily joining in with Tiny Tim to say, “God bless us, every one!”