Charles Dickens created Ebenezer Scrooge in his “ghostly little book” published in 1843. It was the first of his five holiday tales.
Because of his childhood, Dickens carried a burden for the less fortunate. This theme emerges in much of his work, including A Christmas Carol. He only lightly alludes to the Nativity story when Nephew Fred says, “I have always thought of Christmas time – apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin if anything belonging to it can be apart from that – as a good time; a kind, forgiving charitable, pleasant time.” Even though he doesn’t recite the gospel, the story certainly follows Christian themes.
For all his “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge knew love. His little sister Fan’s hugs and kisses when she fetched him from boarding school, and Nephew Fred’s resolute “Merry Christmas!” wish to his uncle are evidence enough. His first boss Fezziwig had a love of life Scrooge found contagious. It was love that rescued him from the icy cold that gripped his heart. The Christian counterpart is that “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5).
Scrooge was “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” per his creator. And we are per ours. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). Yet Scrooge was not without hope. His deceased partner Marley came back to warn him, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business!” Upon seeing his name on the tombstone, Scrooge exclaims, “Hear me! I am not the man I was. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!” As it was with Scrooge, our hope was realized on Christmas morning. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
Scrooge repents of what he had done and of who he was. His joie de vivre was that of Zacchaeus, immediate and tangible. Scrooge generously tipped for the prized goose he sent to poor Bob Cratchit. He made a generous contribution to the men he had insulted as they collected for the poor. He went to church. He restored his relationship with nephew Fred and wife. He gave Cratchit a raise. “And to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father.” Indeed the Bible says, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).
Keeping Christmas means love, hope, repentance, restoration, new life, all wonderful themes made possible by the coming of Christ in the little town of Bethlehem. May it be truly said of all of us that we keep Christmas well, “and so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”