Our church services for the month of December are based on Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. (BTW – The entire original movie version from 1935 can be found here on YouTube.)
Christmas is often a time in which we reflect on our past year, i.e. The Ghosts of Christmas Past. And, if we’re honest, most of us can look back with at least a few regrets. Perhaps how we have acted, or things we’ve said, decisions we have made or even things we have left undone. Marley’s ghost referenced these moments as ‘the chains he forged in life’ & posed the question to Scrooge, “Do you know the length of the chain you bear?” In the case of Scrooge, it was the torture of remorse that was overwhelming when he realized that there were consequences to how he lived his life. But sorrow & regret unaccompanied by repentance do us no good at all. (Repentance is just a churchy word for turning around and going the other way.)
2 Corinthians 7:10 in the New Testament, indicates that God can use regret & sorrow in our lives to lead us back to hope in Him. Disciples Peter & Judas both had followed Jesus for 3 years & still betrayed him. However, the outcomes were completely different. Peter’s sorrow led to repentance, and led him back to Jesus. Judas sorrow, which lacked repentance, led him to his death.
Scrooge finally realized the potential for good that existed in him, if he would change course & recognize that he & money were not the center of the universe. As a result of his repentance he became known as the most generous, loving, and caring man in the town. (I hope I never have to be visited by ghosts to nail this truth into my heart & mind.)
Christmas always allows us to wake to that new day … by bringing us new life. And that new life is in God’s son, Jesus. He is the real story of the season we all need to hear & receive. Our prayer is that God’s message of love & hope would fill you with courage & strength this Christmas season.
Dave Wenrich is Pastor at Boston Harbor Community Church located at 9 Salutation Street in Boston’s North End.