Alistair Sims as Ebenezer (1951)
“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”
Like Charlie Brown, the true meaning of Christmas evades some folks every twenty-fifth of December. Fortunately, another Charlie peeled back some of the mystery with his classic 1843 tale, A Christmas Carol. Although most rely on the film versions, instead of reading Charles Dickens’ masterpiece–a measly 29,000 words that can be read in just two-hours–A Christmas Carolcan be reduced even more to only one word…repent.
Repent is a religious word that means to change your mind, or your direction (I repented of going home and went back to work). For Scrooge, he decides to change his stingy and selfish life, and to embrace Christmas, something his nephew Fred sums up nicely:
“I have always thought of Christmas as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Charles John Huffam Dickens
Note these literary nuggets, “shut-up hearts”and “fellow-passengers to the grave.” Dickens turned a phrase as easily as a doorknob, or a Marley encrusted doorknocker, and understood human nature like no other author. His scalpel-like words can even reveal our own Scrooged-up hearts (“Mankind was my business”).
If your heart is “shut-up” at this festive time, and don’t “get” Christmas, consider Phillips Brooks’ famous carol’s line,“Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.” Meek is another religious word that has the idea of a wild horse that is now broken, gentle, and easily led.
O Little Town of Bethlehem author
Brooks was influenced by the Apostle John who said, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:10-13).”
The real meaning of Christmas is revealed when the One Who created everything literally enters your heart because you receive Him, just like a Christmas present. You have to be born of God through His Spirit. Jesus made that clear when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God(John 3:3).”
Linus van Pelt
Christmas only makes sense if the Author of Christmas, “now in flesh appearing,”comes inside of you because like Scrooge, you repented and with meekness let Him lead you in a new direction. That was Jesus’ very first sermon, repent and believe (Mark 1:15). And as Linus said, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” So, be like Scrooge…repent.
The best version of A Christmas Carol was in 1984: A Christmas Carol