A Dickens Christmas – A Scrooge No More
Colossians 1:21-22

Our Christmas series is “Christmas Through the Ages.” We started at our current day and we have been rolling back through time to look at Christmases of the past.

Today, we arrive at “A Dicken’s Christmas”
The time was the mid 1800’s. This was a time when poverty was great and spirits were low. Charles Dickens revived the celebration of Christmas. Some say that much of the way that we celebrate Christmas today is due to Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” (Les Standiford demonstrates this in his book, “The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits)

“A Christmas Carol” is one of the greatest literary Classics of all time. In the early 20th century, it was second ONLY to the Bible in copies sold! (Standiford).
Tells a story of REDEMPTION

Ebenezer Scrooge illustrates a person caught up in the pursuit of life.
Regarding the poor, his character famously says,“If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 13). . Kindle Edition.

Scrooge is the person pictured in Ecclesiastes:
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10–12, ESV)
“There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.” (Ecclesiastes 6:1–2, ESV)

He is the person of whom JESUS speaks…. “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”” (Luke 12:15, ESV)

Although SCROOGE is a fictional character, he illustrates a powerful lesson:
NO EARTHLY THING can provide meaning and happiness in life.
The only remedy powerful enough to dispel the sorrows of life and the pain of the past, is the remedy of a changed life through the gospel.

I. Scrooge illustrates that WEALTH cannot make us HAPPY
A. Poverty and wealth are familiar themes in the Dickens. When Charles was 12 years old he was forced to work in a factory making book blacking for six shillings per day. He worked ten hours a day until his father’s debt was paid off and rescued from debtors prison. His youth was deprived.

B. Was Dickens a Christian? Not in any overt way. However, there ARE many strong Christian themes in the BOOK that are overlooked in popular movies and plays based on Dicken’s book. Many versions of “A Christmas Carol.” Whether you’ve seen one staring George C. Scott, Jim Carey or even The MUPPETS, adaptations of Charles Dicken’s book are most often a diluted or sterilized omitting the strong Christian themes contained in the book.
C. MARLEY: “At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 25). . Kindle Edition.

D. Dicken’s story reflects his own struggles to overcome the poverty and neglect that he suffered in his youth. It also challenges the poverty and injustice endured by many in his day.

II. Scrooge Illustrates that a Life Lived for WEALTH leads to REGRET
The GHOSTS are the things that haunted Ebenezer.
A. GHOST ONE the Ghost of Christmas Past….. The ghost of REGRET.
1. Ebenezer lost the innocence of his childhood.
2. His greatest regret was that his love of wealth caused him to loose his sweetheart. SCROOGES GIRLFRIEND from his YOUTH: “Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.” “What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined. “A golden one.” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 45). . Kindle Edition.

B. GHOST TWO – Christmas Present The ghost of FALSE HOPE.
1. During this scene, Scrooge’s home is filled with what appears to be great wealth. At first this makes Scrooge very happy. “Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears , immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 53). . Kindle Edition.
2. BUT the riches were rotten. The ghost invites Scrooge to examine more closely. “Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye , its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 54). . Kindle Edition.

God warns us against the FALSE HOPE of RICHES
3. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.” (James 5:1–6, ESV)
4. ““Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt 6:19–20 ESV)

C. GHOST THREE – the Ghost of Christmas Present…. the Ghost of ACCOUNTABILITY
1. What is it the completely breaks down the old Scrooge? What gets to the man who wouldn’t provide his employee (and Nephew) with coal to heat with? What finally weakens the resolve of the man who replies to the needs of the poor in the following way: “Are there no prisons? … And the Union workhouses ?…. Are they still in operation? ..The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” [because] I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 12). . Kindle Edition.

2. Scrooge is confronted by the THIRD GHOST with his own mortality.

3. It is when SCROOGE sees that his life was a mockery, and that his DEATH is inevitable, that he CHANGES.

4. “And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”” (Luke 12:16–21, ESV)

D. SCROOGE uses his REMAINING TIME to make things RIGHT. “Yes! and the bedpost was his own . The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!” Dickens, Charles (2012-05-17). A Christmas Carol (p. 100). . Kindle Edition.

III. What Are You Living For?
A. Wealth did not make you happy in your PAST
B. Wealth cannot provide JOY NOW
C. Wealth cannot PROTECT you later

D. Scrooge discovered the meaning of Christmas

E. I want to be more clear than Dickens….. I invite you to discover CHRISTMAS HIMSELF. Receive the gift of Christmas – the Lord Jesus Christ.