One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to kick off the month of December by watching TNT’s 1999 movie version of Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol.Although many scholars don’t consider the book to be one of Dickens’ important literary works, its popularity can’t be denied. This beloved tale of redemption and a changed heart has spawned countless play and movie adaptations, ensuring that each year more and more people are finding God in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
The short book is packed with memorable characters and poignant scenes that linger in the mind long after the last page is turned. Early in the story, a frightening encounter between Ebenezer Scrooge and a ghost sets the mood and reveals the theme of the book. When Scrooge finally accepts that he’s seeing the spirit of his former business partner who had died seven years earlier, he doesn’t understand why Marley’s ghost is in such misery. He asks why Marley is fettered with a great chain wrapped around his waist. Marley explains that he forged this chain in life, link by link, as he devoted himself to making money rather than helping his fellow man. He informs Scrooge that he also has forged a massive chain—one that was already as heavy and long as Marley’s seven Christmases earlier. Scrooge glances down at the floor but sees nothing.
Like Dickens’ characters, we all have chains that weigh us down. We carry around the burdens of our past mistakes, failures, and disappointments; other links were added when someone hurt us. God doesn’t want us to live like that. He wants to break off our invisible chains so that we will be free to enjoy a life of true fulfillment.
The Bible (New Living Translation) tells us to “pour out” our heart to God (Psalm 62:8) and “give all our worries and cares” to him (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus explained that he came to the earth so that his followers might live a rich and more satisfying life. (John 10:10)
Thanks to the lessons that Scrooge learned from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, he became a changed man. The former lonely miser became a friend to mankind, generously giving to all within his reach and enjoying true friendship. Once we have an encounter with God through Jesus Christ, we too become a changed person with a new life. Thanks to the allegories in Dickens’ novella and the many televised productions of it, this December people are sure to be finding God in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Enjoy this clip from the 1999 TNT version of the movie, showing Scrooge and Marley’s encounter.