Summary: A sermon on repentance and change based on Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol".
By Pastor James May
There is an old story that has been retold many times over the years since it was written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1843. The title of that story is “A Christmas Carol”, and it is one of my favorite programs to watch during the Christmas season. In many ways it is a summary of what I try to accomplish in the hearts of people every day as I bring you the Word of God from this pulpit.
Matthew 2:1-2, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
I believe that each of us, in our own way, have come here this morning with the same question on our mind as this one that the Wise Men had – Where is He that is called Jesus? Show Him to me. I desire to know Him.”
We all have come from our own Christmas past and we have been reminded by the visiting Spirit of what has gone before. The Ghost of Christmas Past that appeared to old Ebeneezer Scrooge could well be compared to the visitation in your heart of the Holy Spirit, showing you where you have been and trying to remind you that there are some things that need to change if you are going to be the kind of person who is acceptable by God.
Where does it all begin? It begins at the same place where Scrooge did – with a convicting spirit that comes to us in our self-centered lives to show us that change needs to happen.
If you will remember, it is Scrooge’s old partner, Jacob Marley, who comes to him first to warn him that he is going to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas. Marley has already met his doom. In effect what we can see here is that Scrooge is given a second chance at life; something that is still offered to every one of us if we will heed the warnings from God’s Word and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us.
No, you won’t see an old friend come back from the grave wrapped in chains. There was one man in the Book of Luke who begged for this to happen. The rich man found himself in the flames of hell looking over at Lazarus who was at peach in paradise. He begged God to send Lazarus back to the land of the living to warn the rich man’s brothers lest they too should end up in torment. God’s answer was no. God already had a method in place for the salvation of the rich man’s brothers if they wanted to hear it. They had the prophets; the Word of God; and the constant presence of the Holy Spirit trying to reach to them. All that was needed was already there and if they won’t heed these then they wouldn’t hear one come back from the dead either.
What was coming to Scrooge was really going to be good news, but he surely did not recognize it as good news in the beginning. His first reaction was one of refusal to believe or accept the lessons that were coming to him. He was very resistant to the leading of the Ghost of Christmas Past and was finally forced to look into the past to wee how far he had fallen.
Scrooge was taken back to the happy days of his childhood; and then to the joy of those Christmases that had been experienced over the years as he grew up, fell in love and began to find his way in life. Through the years he had changed, but not for the better. The pressures of life, the search for wealth and the thirst for the things that life has to offer became the focus of his life and in this process of searching and gaining wealth he lost the one thing in his life that was most precious of all. He lost his one chance for love and, in so doing, lost the joy in life that could have been his.
That, to me, is the condition of mankind without God. As we go through life, the cares of life and the search for a better life often leave us with questions for which there seems to be no answer. Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Why do I continue to face nothing but difficulty? Where is the joy in life?
The effect of all of the hard work, the lost opportunities, and the disillusionment of thinking that life will always be grand, the let downs of disappointment, and the cynicism that arises in us causes us to be just like Scrooge so that whenever we see anything that won’t further our own dreams and ambitions we just say, “Bah! Humbug! I don’t have time for fun. I don’t have time for play. I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses on life’s journey. I’m too busy reaching for my own goals, so leave me alone.”