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Insights & Opinions | December 6, 2012

Bah! Humbug!


Charles Dickens' classic tale reminds us that transformation and renewal are possible

Old miser Ebenezer Scrooge played by William "Bill" Stambaugh jumps with joy embracing the spirit of Christmas after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future during Ashland Community and Technical College theater's dress rehearsal for "A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley" Tuesday Dec. 4, 2012 in Ashland, Ky. (AP Photo/The Independent, Kevin Goldy)

Ever seen a ghost? Ebenezer Scrooge did. His encounter with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future changed his life. In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Mr. Scrooge, the beloved instigator of "Bah! Humbug!," is transformed from a cold-hearted antagonist to a warm-hearted hero by the true spirit of Christmas--gospel driven compassion.

Dickens' Christmas tale is one of our family's treasured classics. And this holiday season, we watched Scrooge come alive in the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Performing Arts Department production of A Christmas Carol-The Musical. Reading Dickens overwhelms even the most dedicated English Lit student, but watching our daughter Jill and her talented classmates sing and dance their way through Dickens' timeless tale was unforgettable.

Ebenezer Scrooge, the quintessential miserly sneep who lives in 19th century London and bah-humbugs any and all things "Christmas," captivated the audience. Scrooge thrashes his overworked and underpaid bookkeeper for asking for a day off on Christmas, and belittles his nephew for celebrating the holy day with family and friends. No love lost here!

Much to Scrooge's surprise, his former business partner, Jacob Marley, comes back from the dead on Christmas Eve to warn the old miser that his cold heart will chain him to an eternity of suffering. Marley summons three ghostly messengers to give Scrooge a bird's eye view of his life: past, present and future. Marley hopes his friend will change his ways.

During his ghostly encounters, Scrooge realizes that those he disdains truly care about his better health and welfare. And in spite of his unkindness, they really do appreciate him. Scrooge also becomes keenly aware of what he's lost in contrast to what both rich and poor have gained--the richness of relationships with family and friends. The sweet fruit of Holy Spirit-driven lovingkindness transforms Dickens' crotchety grouch into a loving uncle, employer, and benefactor. Scrooge literally becomes a "new man"! (II Corinthians 5:17)

My intuition tells me that you're bah-humbugging your way into December. No worries, I won't mention that 4 letter word, e_ _ m, nor will I dwell on the fiscal cliff or our culture's crumbling. And I'm definitely not saying a word about the most dreaded topic--Christmas shopping. You know what you need to do. Or do you? Doing Christmas solo--I mean without the power of the Holy Spirit--transforms even the holly jolliest into a Scrooge. Don't even go there. Instead, immerse yourself in the gospel of Luke or John. Let the word of God dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3:16) Like Ebenezer Scrooge you'll be forever changed.