The past two weeks I have been looking at lessons I have gleaned from some of my favorite Christmas movies. This week I would like to look at another well known movie A Christmas Carol. Originally a book by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol was first made into a movie in 1938. Various versions have been made over the years, but my two favorites are the made for TV version from 1984 starring George C. Scott, and The Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992 starring Michael Caine as Scrooge.
A Christmas Carol is weighty with lessons to be learned. The most obvious is the lesson of redemption. We could say that Ebenezer Scrooge was "lost" in his unbelief in the Spirit of Christmas. However, through the intervention of four ghostly visitors Scrooge is given a "new" life. A life in which,
Redemption and transformation are key lessons in this tale, but there are many others as well. If we look at Scrooge's nephew Fred we might learn the lesson of joy in lesser circumstances. From Bob Cratchit we can learn the lesson of contentment even in the face of tragedy. And of course we can all learn things by reexamining our past and by contemplating our futures. What I find most profound is the lesson that both Scrooge and I learned from the Ghost of Christmas Present.
This particular Spirit, in most versions of the movie is a jovial, fun loving being who sets about showing Scrooge what Christmas is all about. He leads Ebenezer around the town showing him the joy of Christmas celebrations and the beauty of love and sacrifice. What stood out most to me, however was what the Spirit said to Scrooge when they first encountered each other:
The reality is that we do not live in the past. If we do, we will not be useful in the present. We also cannot live in the future. The future hasn't happened yet. If we spend all our time thinking, worrying, planning or fretting over the future then we are going to miss the beauty of the here and now. I am not saying we shouldn't look at the past. We learn (or at least I hope we do) from the mistakes of our past. I am not saying we shouldn't think about the future. We have to plan for days ahead or when the future comes we will be ill prepared. But reality is here and now.
The Ghost of Christmas Present was trying to open Scrooge's eyes to all that was glorious and beautiful about the season of Christmas; the celebrations, the singing, the games, the food, the fun. Scrooge was missing it all because he was hurt by his past and hoarding for his future, a future he was preparing to share with no one!
Can you hear God saying to us, "Come in....Come in and know me better, man!" God wants us to live in the present, not in the past, nor in the future, but here and now. If we are hurt by the past we may be missing out on the beauty that God has to offer today. If we are fearful or obsessed by the future we may be leaving behind all those people who love us and all those experiences that would make our lives so much richer and more fulfilling.
If we look at some of the Psalms we can see that knowing God better is to our advantage:
Part of Ebenezer's problem was that he had become hardened. He didn't want to know Christmas. He had surrounded himself with work and money and felt that was all he needed. Are we following a similar path to Mr. Scrooge? Are we occupied with things, trying to fill empty spots that only the love of God can fill? Perhaps we need to go in and know God better. Perhaps we need to let Him show us the beautiful things, not only of Christmas, because that was His idea too, but of life, of each and every moment.
"Go in, ---Go in! and know Him better!"