“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” ~Charles Dickens
“Marley was dead: to begin with.” Thus begins the first lines of the opening scene in the annual presentation of The Christmas Carol and also a very unexpected but cherished family tradition. For the past eight years our little family of three has set off for a night of theatre, forsaking the hustle and bustle of the holiday noise to sit and be told the classic tale written by Charles Dickens in 1843.
Each year the play is presented in a different way and people from all walks of life and persuasion join in to enjoy the timeless message which never fails to touch and tenderize my heart to tears. I watch the same play in a city shrouded in darkness, and am mesmerized at the light that shines forth from this 96 year old stage in this annual production.
Sometimes the gospel shows up in the most unlikely places, and is presented in ways we hardly would expect, and yet our hearts do confirm the truth. The power of the truth of Christmas to transform a heart is a story that never grows old. Isn’t it the story of each one of us?
Watching Ebenezer Scrooge counting money, chasing away carolers, and sneering at his sole employee at the onset of the play reminds me every year to examine myself and see where I may be shutting my own heart up tight. It is a subtle thing we are prone to during difficult times when bills pile high and the pressures of daily life squeeze out our ability to see the magnificent beauty and glory of our God.
But then Tiny Tim, the child who leads us all to the truth, as children so often do, reminds us of what we all need to remember:
“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
Quietness in the theater, a glorious pause.
We are reminded that just as Scrooge’s heart was changed, God desires no less from us. As we turn our eyes toward the manger and learn to keep Christmas well despite the distractions, disappointments and demands of the days. After all keeping Christmas well is not a once a year endeavor but a daily awakening to the presence of God With Us. Emmanuel.
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
* Special thanks to my Mom who sends us each year!