Summary: Mary challenges us to completely God.
December 21, 2014
Christmas According to Dickens
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Opening words: You know the story. Everybody knows the story. Miserly old business man Ebenezer Scrooge lived for nothing but money. The problem was his money wasn’t making him happier, it was making him more miserable. Everyone in his life knew it. His deceased business partner Jacob Marley knew it. Marley knew change was still possible so he came to visit Scrooge. He told him that three more ghosts would come to visit him. The first would be the ghost of Christmas past. The second would be the ghost of Christmas present. The third would be the ghost of Christmases yet to come or the ghost of Christmas future. They were coming for one reason, transformation!
This is sermon number three in my six part sermon series, Christmas According to Dickens. We are looking at various scenes from the classic short story, A Christmas Carol. The name of Jesus is never mentioned in the book but his fingerprints are found everywhere. Today’s scene is no exception. This morning’s message is called The Ghost of Christmas Present. Our primary scripture is Luke 1:46-56.
Luke 1:46-56 46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
When we last left Scrooge, he was trying to recover from his time with the ghost of Christmas past. She reminded him of both the good and the bad. It was now time for his next visitor, the ghost of Christmas present. For the first time he saw the home of his office clerk Bob Cratchitt. His home was simple at best with a surplus of both love and hardship. Everyone is doing their best to survive and support one another. The apple of Bob’s eye is his young crippled son Tiny Tim. The boy has no future but he is able to do one thing no one else can. He pierces Scrooge’s heart. For the first time in a long time, Scrooge shows some compassion. The problem is Scrooge is not quite ready to act on that compassion. In many ways we are like Scrooge. We have compassion on the less fortunate but we do very little to relieve their suffering. I hope you don’t resemble that remark. I am afraid, I do.
On Tuesdays evenings I have been meeting with a small group. I do them occasionally. I enjoy them for a variety of reasons. First, I do them for me. I get to be with people. I spend more time alone than you would think. Second, I do them for you. With three services and new members we don’t know one another anymore. It is important that you know one another. You may get to know someone new in one of these studies. Third, I do them for the material, itself. I will be the first to admit that I am not a great chapter and verse minister. However, I will also admit that most of the time we know what God wants us to do but we just refuse to do it. Just think about it for a moment. Everyone here knows they are to love unconditionally but we love conditionally. Everyone here knows we are supposed to tithe but we give our spare change. Everyone here knows our only hope of salvation is Jesus but we still believe we can earn our salvation by our good works. In my opinion, knowing chapter and verse is important but it is not as important as living out God’s will. In many ways, we play the part of Scrooge. We know what we should do but we just don’t do it. That is what makes morning’s Gospel lesson so incredible. Let us look at it together.
Once again, we are in the first chapter of Luke. We have to go back before we go forward. Mary has just been told by the angel Gabriel that she has been selected by God for a special job. She is going to be the mother of the Messiah. There is only one problem. She is unmarried so pregnancy seems impossible. You have to admit God is always thinking outside of the box. This child will not be conceived in the old fashioned way. This child will be conceived in a miraculous way. The Holy Spirit, himself, will come upon her and she will be with child. She will name that child Jesus. That is a good church story but in the real world it is hard to believe. All you have to do is walk in Mary’s shoes and the story gets very complex. We talked about this last week.