Be A Scrooge This Christmas! -- Rev. Jody Long
There are few Christmas traditions with as much staying power as Christmas movies. For many of us, these movies are staples of our celebrations of the Christmas season. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a Christmas movie buff. I own many different Christmas movies on DVD and have recorded more this year. For comedy, I turn to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (perhaps the funniest movie of all time, in my opinion) or “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray. For romantic comedy, “Love Actually” and “Four Christmases” work, too. For heartwarming goodness, who could forget “White Christmas” or “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s A Wonderful Life”?
Despite these great movies, the ones that I always enjoy watching are the different adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The story is spellbinding and almost a part of our Christmas narrative. Miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge; poor, downtrodden Bob Cratchit; blessed little Tiny Tim; the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future – these characters are interwoven into our lives.
Last night, while watching the Jim Carrey-voiced Scrooge in Disney’s latest incarnation of this great story, I was reminded again of why this story sticks with us. It’s a story, at its base, of redemption and hope. Through the visitations of the ghosts of Christmas past, Scrooge is transformed, redeemed even. From screeching a “Bah humbug” to anyone who dared cross his path with Christmas cheer on Christmas Eve, Scrooge awakes Christmas morning to fling open the windows and declare “Merry Christmas.” He makes amends on his past failings of generosity by going overboard and committing his life to giving, not taking. Confronted by his past failings, his present cruelty, and his lonely, death-filled future, Scrooge is transformed into a model of generosity.
But the good news of the story is that the transformation is shared. Scrooge goes and buys the largest goose at the market and takes it to Cratchits. What an expression of generosity, especially considering that Scrooge’s miserly ways have put the Cratchits on the brink of poverty even though Bob works long hours for Scrooge! The Cratchit’s son, Tim, sickly and small, is embraced by Scrooge as a child he never had. Scrooge even makes amends with his nephew and joins a Christmas party there, too!
As Advent turns to Love this week, we hear the words of 1 John 3: “Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” This year, become a Scrooge: not the one of Christmas Eve, the one of Christmas Day. Live out the love of the coming Christ child through unexpected generosity that transforms and redeems our world forever.