Last time we began with Ebenezer Scrooge.

What many believe is only an entertaining Christmas story, turns out to be a heart wrenching tale about an old man who’s never been able to come to terms with the excruciating truth he was essentially thrown away and forgotten by his father when he was a boy. This is why Ebenezer hates Christmas, and this is why he does everything he can to destroy other’s joy, every moment of every day.

Ebenezer’s journey with the Ghost of Christmas Past may teach us the most, for our past in many ways defines us. He had a good job as a young man and a kind and generous boss. And he even fell in love.

The Ghost and Ebenezer pay a visit to his place of employment. His fiancé unexpectedly drops in for a visit. Ebenezer is, “in the prime of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.” 1

If only how beautifully it is written could temper the brewing storm of which it speaks.

His fiancé begins, “’It matters little,’ she said, softly. ‘To you, very little. 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.’” 2

You get the feeling this is not the first time they’ve had this conversation, it is only the first time Ebenezer knew they were having it. She has been wishing for years she will re-discover the young man she fell in love with, but he has been gone for some time now; and worse, his affections are focused elsewhere.

Ebenezer objects and points to how hypocritical the world is, for it’s so hard on poverty, but then condemns those who pursue wealth. His fiancé doesn’t take the bait, and continues:

“’All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of (the world’s) sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you.’ ‘Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. You are changed. When it was made, you were another man.’

‘I was a boy.’

‘Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are,’ she returned. ‘I am. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.’” 3

This story is not as symbolic as many we will consider, the message is quite clear and on the surface. But Dickens teaches an incredibly important truth, a formula of sorts — that the greatest wounds in our hearts will search for something in the world to soothe them, and may become addicted to this worldly pleasure as an end in itself. But it can never satisfy.

And you can never divide your greatest affections. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”4 It seems this also applies to the love of a woman.

Ebenezer’s fiancé says everything she came to say, makes it clear the engagement is broken, turns and leaves. Ebenezer is silent and does nothing. Actions always speak louder than words.

As an old man, Ebenezer would have plenty of money, nothing in the world would keep him from that, but that was all he had. Otherwise, he was a lonely, bitter and miserable old man, bound up in his hatred of everyone — but having no clue whatsoever how he came to be this way, or if there could be any escape.

But there was always a purpose for this Christmas Eve for old Ebenezer, a grand purpose. He had wasted most of his life . . . but he need not waste any more.

1 A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, 1843; Barnes and Nobles Classics, A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket, 2004, Barnes and Noble, Inc. – page 39
2 Ibid, page 39-40
3 Ibid, page 40
4 Matthew 6:24, New American Standard Bible, 1995

Welcome, I'm Sam!

A fellow traveler on this journey we call life and this path we call the Christian faith, wanting to speak to anyone who will listen about the incredible things that God (only because of His incredible grace) chose to reveal to me. Stories have always been a mirror in which we can see ourselves, if we only look more closely. We are all like the children of Israel in the wilderness, wanting and needing to establish ourselves in the promised land. Stories can help us to get there, and to flourish there.

I can't wait to get to know you!


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