Key Word:- RESCUE
Title:- Ghastly Ghosts & Great Ideas
“Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.” So goes the preface of ‘A Christmas Carol’ written by Charles Dickens and first published today in 1843.
I visited Broadstairs, the summer home of Dickens, a few years ago now, with a view to pastoring a church in the area. Broadstairs was still resplendent with Dickens memorabilia and the evidence of overcoming poverty via legal and illegal methods, I am talking about smuggling of course, which still hung in the damp seaside, seagull filled air.
Dicken’s childhood experience of living in a debtor’s prison had made him into a champion against child poverty and illiteracy; indeed he was an avid supporter of the ‘Ragged School’ movement. I remember that some time around Christmas in 1981, I had preached at a small gathering of Christians who met in an old ‘Ragged School’ building in a place called Chesterfield. The building was a left over of the benevolent side of Victorian society’s attempt to educate poor children. You must remember, that at the time of the writing of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ it is estimated that half of all funerals held in the city of London were of children under the age of 10. Imagine that. Fortunately for us now at Christmas time, with Ghosts and a good idea, Dickens has brought poverty, greed, and the need for redemption to the forefront of generation after generation.
Wrangling with his publishers over pricing, Dickens eventually published the book himself. The binding was expensive and the profit margin was to him, negligible; however, the profit this ‘Ghostly idea’ brought to society is beyond reckoning. Contemporary author William Makepeace Thackery comments “Was there ever a better charity sermon preached in the world than Dickens’s Christmas Carol? I believe it occasioned immense hospitality throughout England; was the means of lighting up hundreds of kind fires at Christmas time; caused a wonderful outpouring of Christmas good feeling, of Christmas punch-brewing; an awful slaughter of Christmas turkeys, and roasting and basting of Christmas beef.”
Tell me today friend, who hasn’t heard of poor Tiny Tim or Bob Cratchet and the despicable Ebenezer Scrooge? Dickens did a great job in turning the misery of Christmas time into joy and today, as we are surrounded by glitzy lights, whilst running headlong into increasing debt and being constantly chased by hounding consumerism, all day and all night, let us ask ourselves what we need to do to redeem Christmas once more, this time not from poverty, but this time from gross consumerism? For surely Christmas needs redeeming once more?
I think that holidays, holy days, are never happy without Christ. They never can be. So may I say to you dear friend as we approach the festivities of this joyous season and the glorious remembrance of the arrival of the Christ child, “Merry Christmas to you and may God bless us, everyone!” Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season and so it must mean more to us than a plastic singing Billy Bass fish from Wal Mart!
Listen:- (from the mouth of the redeemed, Ebenezer Scrooge of ‘A Christmas Carol’) “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.” “He (Tiny Tim) told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant for them to remember, upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see” .
Pray: - Lord, let generosity of spirit and the freedom of being Your child, be gifts to myself, my family, my friends, and all people that I touch this coming and most glorious Christmas time. Amen.