Summary: This message looks at the how Christmas and it's main characters are introduced in the OT and Luke and Matthew. Like Dickens Christmas Carol the five parts are each called Staves. (if it was good enough for Dickens)
A Christmas Carol Stave one
When Angela and I first got married she told me that one of the things that she did with her dad each Christmas was to watch A Christmas Carol. But it had to be the Alastair Sim one from 1951, and not the colourized version either.
The movie was first released in the UK under the title of Scrooge and was retitled A Christmas Carol when released in the US. And while it didn’t have a great success in the theatres it soon became a Christmas favorite on television.
And the movie was based on Charles Dickens’ book A Christmas Carol which was written in 1843. And through the years there have been over two dozen different films adaptions of the novel.
Is everyone here familiar with the story or the movie, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol or the Muppets version? To be truthfully I had watched both Mickey and the Muppets before I got around to watching Alastair Sim.
Last year Angela and I went and saw "The Man Who Invented Christmas" and as a result, I finally got around to reading Dickens novel which I loved.
And Dickens breaks his tale down into five chapters which he called staves, which is a musical term, not a literary term, but who am I to question Dickens on literature?
And so, in Stave one Dickens sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Dickens first introduces the location: London England during the reign of Queen Victoria. This was a time of transition for England, it was the period of time between the first and second industrial revolution. A time when people had flocked from the country to the city to fill spots in the factories and the living conditions were terrible and poverty was rampant
And into 19th Century London Dickens introduces the main characters in the story.
He begins not with a person, but with the ghost of a person, Jacob Marley. And he begins the story with these words, “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”
Marley was not just dead but had been dead for seven years. And before he died, he was the business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge who is the protagonist of the story.
Dickens describes Scrooge as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”
And before the first stave had ended Dickens had introduced us to not only Scrooge and the Ghost of Marley but also to Scrooges nephew Fred and his clerk Bob Cratchit.
We are shown Scrooge’s character when he turns away two men who are seeking donations to help the poor.
And Scrooge sums up his feelings about Christmas by telling his nephew, “What else can I be when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?" Scrooge doesn’t want anybody to enjoy Christmas.
He goes on to tell Fred, “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
The first stave ends with Marley’s ghost, who has been wandering the earth wrapped in heavy chains and money boxes forged by his life of greed and selfishness, visiting Scrooge at home. Marley tells his old business partner that he has a single chance to change and avoid the same fate. Scrooge learns that he will be visited by three ghosts to whom he must listen or be cursed to carry similar chains for eternity.
And everything in stave one is needed to set the stage for the rest of the story.
Without the novel being set in London at that particular time in history, the story wouldn’t make sense. Without introducing Fred and Bob we’d be confused later in the narrative. Without understanding the character of Scrooge, the visit of the three ghosts later would be pointless.
So, let’s begin as Dickens did, with Stave one setting the stage for the Christmas story.
The scripture, from Matthew’s gospel, that was read this morning only gives us a part of the introduction, the rest is found in Luke’s account.
Let’s begin with Matthew 1:18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And so we begin with The Who The story begins with us being introduced to the main characters. Mary and Joseph. And we discover that they are engaged, but that Mary is still a virgin.