Summary: This message is part of a series using Dickens Christmas Carol as a framework. This week looks at how Christmas has impacted the present
He had become a celebrity, there was no other word for it, he had toured with his wife across the United States and Canada and crowds flocked to see him. During his time in the U.S., because of his celebrity status, he was granted an opportunity to address Congress on international copyright issues. As a speaker, he filled venues wherever he went
While travelling he wrote a book entitled, A travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation, in which he recorded his impressions of the former colony.
Back home in England the Queen was a fan, especially of the Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist and his works had gained a popular following as well.
Of course, it is Charles Dickens of whom I speak. And while Dickens never ran for political office, he wasn’t above using his celebrity status to take a public political stand, much like many celebrities today. When the Tories were returned to power in England he would write, "They are people whom, politically, I despise and abhor.” I wonder how he really felt?
By 1843 his latest 3 novels that had been greeted with a lukewarm response, his publishers had threatened to cut his monthly income because of the poor sales and his wife was pregnant with the fifth child.
In October of that year, he promised his publishers a Christmas Comedy and delivered it in only six weeks.
As the idea for the story began to morph and the writing began in earnest, Dickens became obsessed with the book. He would later write that as the tale began to take shape that he "wept and laughed and wept again" and he "walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed.”
The book was released on December 19th and by Christmas Eve the first printing had sold out across London and by the end of 1844 twelve additional editions had been released.
This is week three of our A Christmas Carol series, as we use Dickens book as a framework for telling the Christmas story.
If you aren’t familiar with the book, it is divided into five chapters, which Dickens called Staves.
The first stave acted as an introduction to the book and its protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge. So that week we looked at the first chapters of Matthew and Luke and how they introduced us to the main characters of the Christmas story, a young girl by the name of Mary and her fiancé Joseph.
When Mary is told by a heavenly visitor that she will become pregnant she asks, Luke 1:34 “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Which seems like a reasonable question, considering the circumstances. And the Angel tells her, Luke 1:35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” To which he adds Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
In Stave 2 of a Christmas Carol, we see Scrooge visited by the first of three spirits who would visit him, in this case, it was the Ghost of Christmas past, who took Scrooge back in time to his personal past to see how the choices he had made in his past had shaped his present life.
From there we looked at how Christmas can affect our past, that Jesus came to save people from their sins. And that means each one of us has the choice to surrender our past to Christ and to accept his grace and his forgiveness, or not.
This week we are looking at Stave three. In the book, this is where Scrooge is visited by the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes him on a journey to see how Christmas is being celebrated outside of his own narrow worldview.
He watches his nephew Fred and his family celebrate during a Christmas party and he is taken to his clerk, Bob Cratchit’s, family feast. It is there Scrooge is introduced to Cratchit’s sickly son, Tiny Tim, who Scrooge is told will die unless the course of events is changed.
There was so much that happened with the Christmas story in the present tense. There was Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, the entire subplot of no room in any of the local Inn's and how eventually they found shelter in a stable where the baby Jesus was born. It was to the stable that the shepherds were directed by a host of angels who appeared in the night sky.
But how has Christmas impacted our present? Well, for those of us where are Christ followers that would be evident, without Christmas there’d be no Christ to follow. And we could stop there. But we’re not.