A DICKENS OF A CHRISTMAS
I am, as I do every Christmas season, reading my favorite Christmas book, Charles Dickens’ “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”. Through the years I’ve had several copies of this story, one is in a collection of Dickens’ classics, one is in a collection of other Christmas stories, and this year my copy is on my IPad (backlit with big letters…yeah!). No matter what the setting or context, this story continues to amaze and inspire me. It was my privilege to be involved with a production (as script and songwriter) for the North Anderson Church of God (now Madison Park) production of “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”. And now, THE ALLEY THEATRE is premiering a new production of my script and music this weekend!
It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of Christmas season I’m having, or when or where I’m reading, Charles Dickens uses his words to reach down into the soul where he communicates that best of all messages to the child that is still hiding inside of this old shell.
The great question of the story for me is; how can Scrooge, with all of the resource that his world can offer, miss completely the joy…while Tim Cratchit, sick, poor and facing a certain and early death, seems to not only understand but “embody” the joy of Christmas? And what is that “joy of Christmas”?
In the story, it’s perhaps easier to see what the “Joy of Christmas” is not. When one observes Scrooge, it’s easy to understand the JOY does not come from wealth or power. Scrooge has an abundance of both and neither has given him joy. One can also see that “memories of Christmas”, though fond and perhaps filled with warmth, love and kindness, are more often a reminder that Christmastime now does not fulfill the memories of what it used to be. For Scrooge, his past memories of Christmas only filled him with despair at all he had lost or cast aside.
So what is “The Joy of Christmas”? At its core, it is the knowledge that our Great God cared enough to save us through such elaborate and sacrificial means as placing His Son in this “God-forsaken” world, where he “put on our skin”, felt our pain, walked our path…just so that we would trust and follow. We no longer need to fear the grave, we no longer are victims of our circumstance, we are no longer prisoners of our past, our present or our future.
Tim Cratchit “embodies” the idea that despite our circumstance, Christmas and its Joy transcends all, life is not totally encompassed in this Age, but lives beyond…and “life” is not defined solely by heartbeat and breath. Christmas Joy is greater than the sum of our surroundings, our memories, our hopes. And what finally makes Scrooge happy, what fills him with a joy that sets him dancing? Giving. Because Christmas Joy is “outside” of ourselves, we find the physical manifestation of that joy is also outside of ourselves.
Isn’t that just like God? We must GIVE to GAIN. The percentages will always remain the same, in the Kingdom of God; the more joy you give, the more joy you receive, whether it’s smiles, time, talent, cash or love.
“I have come that you might have life…and have it more abundantly”! JOHN 10:10
“God bless us, everyone.” TINY TIM