Summary: Scrooge was changed from a selfish, greedy and bitter old man, and he becomes a grateful, generous and compassionate figure. A man filled with deep regret sees his life transformed. This Christmas time Jesus, the Son of God, invites us to do the same.
The Real Christmas Carol
Carol Service 2009
Show M&S advert
Finish this phrase – ‘For you, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without...?’
It’s true isn’t it that for most of us, if not for all of us, there are certain things that have to happen, or certain things that you have to have, without which, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas. Maybe it’s coming to the Carol Service and listening to that old familiar story, like we have this evening. A story that is so comfortable, and so familiar that it fits like a pair of our favourite slippers. Or perhaps it’s the Christmas Tree, or the decorations. Maybe it’s the Christmas turkey, or being around family and friends, that makes Christmas, Christmas for you. Or perhaps it’s purely about the presents!
There were two boys spending the night at their Grandmother’s house. At bedtime, while they were saying their prayers, the youngest one began praying at the top of his voice: "I PRAY FOR A THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE TRAIN SET! I PRAY FOR AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER! I PRAY FOR A NEW SPIDERMAN ACTION FIGURE!!!" His older brother leans over and says "Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf." The little brother says "NO, BUT GRANDMA IS!!!"
But it’s true isn’t it – we all have those things, those traditions that, without which, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas! For Michelle its Chocolate Brazil Nuts – For me it’s Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. I have the BBC version with Patrick Stewart at home, and every year before Christmas Day I make sure, that by hook or by crook, I find space, and a bit of peace and quiet to sit down and watch it – (the original film version was on this afternoon) – but, for me, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Scrooge.
This year we went off as a family right at the beginning of November to the cinema to watch the new Walt Disney animated version in 3D – so Christmas started a little early this year.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean and intimidating character, who lives only to make money. He’s a man who has no time, and no patience for religion or sentimentality – of any sort – especially Christmas. And then one Christmas Eve, he receives a terrifying wake-up call. He is visited by the spirit of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley was a miser just like Scrooge, and he has been condemned to roam the face of the earth, tormented by the things he neglected to value in life. Condemned to drag behind him the long chains that he had forged in life.
And he is desperate to give his old colleague a final chance to avoid the same fate. This is Scrooge’s last opportunity to turn from his ignorant, selfish, greedy ways. To turn from his materialistic, money making business, and begin making humanity his business. And Marley warns him that he is going to be visited by 3 ghosts, the ghosts of Christmas past present and future.
Let’s just remind ourselves of the story...
Show clip (Walt Disney ‘A Christmas Carol’ Trailer)
‘Arghhh humbug’ – Did you get what the narrator says half way through that clip... ‘What if you were given a second chance to get your life right... This holiday season the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will give one man that chance!’
And in essence those words encapsulate the whole Christmas message. The whole meaning behind the Christmas story is of a God who gives humanity a second chance. And this evening, very briefly, I want to explore the ghosts of our Christmas’ past, present and future – to help us rediscover, in what is a very familiar and comfortable story, the God of second chances.
The ghost of Christmas past
Now the first spirit is the ghost of Christmas past. And this spirit takes Scrooge back through time to confront him with the pain and the agony of Christmas’ gone by. The spirit takes Scrooge to a schoolroom - where they see a lonely little boy sitting by the fire, whose only companion is the book he is reading. Scrooge remembers how he had been rejected by his father because he blamed him for the death of his mother who died giving him. Scrooge remembers how Christmas after Christmas as the other children went home for the holidays – he was left alone and deserted. He remembers his childhood loneliness, he remembers his childhood pain, he remembers how he had longed for the presence and warmth of friends. He remembers how he had longed for the love and acceptance of his family.
Then the spirit whisks him off and shows him his former fiancée, Belle, a woman whom he once loved deeply, but who had come a poor second to his passion for wealth. ‘A golden idol displaces me,’ she complains to him from the past. And as they travel from Christmas to Christmas, Scrooge is faced time and time again with his broken relationships, with his rejection, with his loneliness.