Summary: In the fourth part of this series we look at how Christmas impacts our future through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
A Christmas Carol Stave four the Future
It was December 19th, 1843 and the Christmas Novella that Dickens had been working on for six weeks was finally released, to immediate success.
By Christmas Eve all 6000 copies of A Christmas Carol had been sold out. And they weren’t cheap, the little book sold for five shillings which we are told is the equivalent of $39.00 today.
Because of a feud with his publishers, Dickens had financed the project himself and insisting that the book be bound in red cloth with gilt-edged pages. The high production cost ate into Dickens profits and he was disappointed that he only made a profit of 230 pounds from the first edition. By the way that would be the equivalent of $35,000.00 today, not bad for six weeks work, but still. The next year he would make close to the equivalent of $150,000.00 from the little book.
A Christmas Carol was almost immediately adapted for the stage and three productions opened on February 5 1944, less than two months after the book was released.
Most of us are familiar with Dickens works, in particular Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, a Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. But A Christmas Carol would remain his most popular and enduring work.
The book has never been out of print, has been translated into several different languages and sold over two million copies in its first hundred years, and has formed the framework for our Advent series this year at Cornerstone.
The book is divided into five chapters or staves as Dickens called them. There are some who would say that Dickens calls the chapters staves because each individual stave is a stand-alone story. But when the five staves are put together, they combine to form a harmonious whole.
Others say that Dickens simply used the musical term to remind us of the title of his book. But because Dickens never explained his rationale, we only have speculation.
And so the book began with Stave 1: Marley’s Ghost, and it is here that Dickens introduces the key elements of the book. Where and when the story is set, London between the first and second industrial revolution, which sets the context for the story with the gap between the working poor and the wealthy. And it’s here he introduces the main characters of the story with particular emphasis on the protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge.
And so on week one we introduced the Christmas Story, that it was set in the small town of Bethlehem, just as the prophet Micah had said it would be. And that it would involve a virgin conceiving a child. It was here we were introduced to a young unmarried woman, Mary and her fiancé Joseph. And here that we read Mary’s objection to the news of her impending pregnancy when she tells the Angel in Luke 1:34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
And the Angel responds by telling her, Luke 1:35 & 37 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. For nothing is impossible with God.”
In Stave two we see Scrooge visited by the first of three spirits, in this case, the Ghost of Christmas Past who takes him back to his more innocent days before he was consumed by greed. The Ghost showed him how the choices that he made in his past had brought him to where he was in his present.
And we looked at how Christmas impacts each one of our pasts. That Jesus didn’t just come, he came to save people from their sins. And we illustrated that by looking at the story of the Thief on the Cross, and how because of Christmas and his choice to commit his future to Christ his past was forgiven.
Last week was Stave 3, and it was in this third Chapter that the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, showed Scrooge how Christmas was celebrated outside of his narrow twisted little worldview. And we took that opportunity to see how Christmas has impacted our present, 2018. How time is basically divided in half, things that happened before the first Christmas and things that happened after the first Christmas.
And we looked at how because of Jesus teachings, hospitals and universities were started by Christian Churches, how the church helped to end slavery in North America and was a leader in the woman’s rights movement.
Which brings us to Stave four. It is here that we are introduced to the third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. And it is this Spirit who shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. It is here that Scrooge sees the funeral of a disliked man, the only people to attend are some local businessmen, and they only came because they were promised lunch.