The Redemption of Scrooge
This Advent season we have journeyed with Charles Dickens, and his colorful cast in A Christmas Carol. It has been for us a window into the beautiful story of Emmanuel, God with us.
I doubt I could find a handful of people in this sanctuary who are unfamiliar with Dickens story. We know it so well: Scrooge, a man who has chained his life, his identity and his happiness to an idol named “Gain” -he is visited one night by Jacob Marley, his old business partner, who, as Dickens tell us, is as dead as a doornail and has been for over seven years. Jacob’s Ghost comes to Scrooge telling him that there are consequences to the way we live our lives. He shows him the chains of calamity that weigh on him in the afterlife. Chains that are anchored by money boxes, gold coins and business ledgers. For he is doomed to remain worshiping in eternity what he worshiped during his life…
But Jacob Marley, does Scrooge a kindness. He sends to him three Spirits: The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. So that they might draw him into a state of reflection and repentance… Jacob gives Scrooge a “chance and a hope” to mend his ways of apathy and greed.
In his journey with these Spirits a mirror is held up in front of him. He sees who he is, who he has become. And perhaps most daunting… he is made to revisit the hard moments and the choices that set him on this current path… he has to see them and reckon with them.
But in the grief and in this time of rather harsh realization… Scrooge learns that there is always hope. There is always hope.
Tonight, we will hear the final scene of A Christmas Carol. Brad Rudich and MaKenna VanRaalte will be helping with the reading tonight, together we will attempt to do some justice to Dickens beautiful prose.
Last week, Scrooge had asked the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?” And now Scrooge has his answer, that there is indeed a chance and a hope.
The Reading of the Final Scene
Scrooge’s new life had just begun. A life of generosity, a life of laughter and warmth, a life of fullness and love. That Christmas morning, Scrooge let go of the idol “Gain” that had consumed him and Scrooge entered anew into a redeemed existence!
It leads us to ask, is it really possible? Is it really possible that God could love me that way? Is it really possible that God could set before me a new path? A new opportunity and purpose?
And the answer to that is a resounding yes! That is why Jesus came, that is the reason for Emmanuel. Because of what happened at Christmas grace is an ever-present reality.
Remember Christ’s Parable of the Lost Sheep. The Good Shepherd left the 99 in search of the 1.
Or the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The father didn’t make his son work of his debt, he didn’t make him prove himself before granting forgiveness… No the father ran to his son, arms wide in acceptance! Any wrongdoing long forgotten… it didn’t matter.
God’s love is a bottomless pit, it is recklessly abundant. And it often seems to stand in contrast to our human concepts of fairness or what is deserved.
Through our hope in Christ- our past, our present and our future are held together in grace. …
The Christmas message is pretty simple, when you think about it. God came from heaven to take on our human form to show us just how much God loves us. That’s pretty much it.
Simple, but astounding.
God looked at humanity and saw just how dark and difficult our days could be. God saw how confused we could get about our identities. God saw the many painful things that we do to each other out of that confusion.
And so God did something about it. God sent the law – “Love God and be good to one another.” God sent prophets to remind us when we needed to get back on track. But then God got involved. Personally.
But, to our continued surprise- God didn’t come to us in power to punish or to frighten or to scold … Rather God came as an infant! Powerless and needing! All to tell us that we are loved, unconditionally, deeply and for forever.
No crèche, or nativity scene, is complete without Mary looking adoringly down a baby Jesus… it’s pretty extraordinary to think that God could love us with that same intensity.
And to answer any question about who was in and who was outside of this love… God sent us a rather clear message when God brought the Good News first to a group of misfit and outsider shepherds, to an unwed teenage mom, and to foreign astrologers who practiced an entirely different religion.
All so that we would get the message… that God’s love is for everyone! Regardless if the world see you as loveable. Regardless of whether the world sees your worth…
As Sophia read in our passage from Isaiah:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
The Narrator of A Christmas Carol describes Scrooge as “one who kept Christmas well.” That doesn’t mean that he was known for his hosting abilities.
To keep Christmas well is to begin to see through God’s eyes. God knows just how dark and difficult our world can be.
God sees the children walking to school hungry in the morning.
God sees the cancer patient enduring yet another treatment.
God sees the confusing madness of in Aleppo.
God see the veterans waging silent wars against depression.
God see the widower struggling with his first Christmas alone.
God sees the Scrooges of this world who are wrestling with their legacy.
And so we are reminded that Christmas is especially (even now) for them. Emmanuel- God with us, is
always on the side of the hurting, the overwhelmed, the grieving… those feeling like they are on the outside looking in.
God sees them- sees their worth/ their need.
To keep Christmas well, means that we too see it all. That we have God’s eyes/ God’s vision/ God’s compassion.
To keep Christmas well, means that we choose to radiate joy and light and love. That we choose to rage against a dark/ bleak world.
Children of God, with Christmas in our heart, fueled by the assurance of God’s grace, we can work to be the ushers of God’s hope, peace, joy and love into this world. Ebenezer Scrooge reminds us that life is short. How we spend our time matters. While our past, present and future are held together in grace- we are still called to be move by it. To be moved and inspired by Christmas.