Every year my family gathers together over the holidays to watch all of our favorite Christmas movies. Or at least as many as we can squeeze in! Old favorites like Holiday Inn and White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life. The first part of the fabulous 1970s miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth. And Little Lord Fauntleroy with Ricky Schroder and Alec Guinness. A few newer ones, like Home Alone and Elf.
But always at the top of our list is the classic A Christmas Carol.
It’s such a powerful story.
For years Ebenezer Scrooge has scoffed at those who celebrate Christmas. Then on Christmas Eve, this “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” comes face to face with his own wretchedness—the greed and lust that have enslaved him—and the terrifying doom that awaits him.
Scrooge encounters the Spirit of Christmas—Past, Present, and Future. In a heart-rending moment, he discovers the true meaning of the blessed holiday. And then:
“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew. . . Ever afterwards . . . it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
Since it was first published in 1843, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become one of the most beloved holiday stories of all time – undoubtedly because of the story within the story.
The story of faith and hope, of transformation, redemption, and rebirth.
It’s a story that points us to the first Christmas and the true meaning of the holiday. . . the birth of a Savior, Jesus Christ, born to bring hope and redemption to the world.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
Many people don’t realize that Dickens wrote his own version of the first Christmas—a retelling of the Scriptural account – not for publication, but for his family. It was called The Life of Our Lord. In this book, Dickens shared from his heart, his own experience of the life-changing power of the gospel. He began simply,
I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable. . . . And as He is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven is, without knowing who He was and what He did…
Who was Jesus? The Bible tells us He was—and is—the Son of God.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son . . .” (Galatians 4:4).
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation . . . For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15,19).
And what did He do? He humbled Himself and became a baby, born in a manger. A baby who would grow up to suffer and die on a cross, to take the punishment we deserve, saving us from our sins and reconciling us to God.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Jesus was the very first Christmas gift.
He is the true Spirit of Christmas – past, present, and future.
When Ebenezer Scrooge encountered this Spirit of Christmas, his life was miraculously transformed. His story reminds us that it’s a transformation we, too, can experience – again and again.
Every time we open our hearts to Jesus. Every time we come to Him. Every time we welcome the love and peace and joy and hope and healing and forgiveness He brings.
Every time we extend it to others.
So whatever it takes, find a few quiet moments this Christmas to remember this life-changing truth, and “let every heart” – including yours, including mine – “prepare Him room…”
Is watching A Christmas Carol with your kids or grandkids one of your family Christmas traditions — or a tradition you’d like to start? You’re welcome to download “A Family Guide to A Christmas Carol” for a quick summary of the plot, an overview of key spiritual themes — Biblical parallels and principles — as well as discussion starters for before and after the movie. (If you’re familiar with my books A Family Guide to Narnia and A Family Guide to the Bible, this movie guide follows the same format.)
To download the 3-page guide for free, click here: A Family Guide to A Christmas Carol