Category Archives: Advent

The Lord has comforted his people…

From the pastor…

If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew.

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

Isaiah 49:13

All of us have a little bit of Ebenezer Scrooge in us.  By the time we are finished with Christmas, many of us are exhausted and don’t want to hear another Christmas carol or another well-wisher’s “Merry Christmas.”  The problem is not new.  Dickens’ book was published in 1843 and the problem was, even then, well-entrenched in both church and society.  Scrooge takes it to the extreme to help make Dickens’ point.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”  

Stave 4

We will be using Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as the foundation for our Advent worship.  Some question might be raised as to why we are using a secular story as the foundation for worship services.  There are several places in the story where Dickens recognizes the need for church attendance and clearly understands the theology of a God who has a heart for the poor and suffering.  But this story is, ultimately, a story of redemption.  It is the story of a man who has slowly veered from the path of joy and righteousness onto a path that leads him deeper and deeper into greed, cynicism and loneliness.  Christmas Eve becomes the focal point and the turning point.

With the help of four ghosts, Scrooge is given the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of God.  He transcends time and is able to move backward and forward catching glimpses of his own past, present and future which he has tried to hide from himself.  The ghosts bring his inner, spiritual self slowly to the surface until Scrooge finally cries out, “Spirit! hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!” (Stave 4)

The God who came to earth so many centuries ago is the God of persistent hope.  Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the always hopeful God who is always with us. We find this to be a joyful occasion because nothing else is able to bring us persistent hope.  It is God through Christ who shows us the things that really matter, the things that are most important.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

How does God do that?

Certainly there have been times in my life, and probably yours, when you have suddenly felt a sense of calm amidst the chaos, or when you have had a sudden enlightenment, an “aha!” moment when the path became clear.  I am sure you have had moments when, for unexplainable reasons you suddenly felt courage or strength.  All those are gifts from God – the God who comforts.

But I am equally sure that you have had other moments when you have been surrounded by friends, family co-workers, neighbors and through them you have felt uplifted, cared for, strengthened, nurtured.  This also is a gift from God – the God who is with us, Emmanuel.

These are the gifts that Scrooge consistently missed.  There were people all around him who were truly concerned for him.  His nephew, Peter, and his employee, Bob Cratchit.  They really did care for him and they always tried to show him that.  His other family and acquaintances tolerated him at best, but even they welcomed him in without a sign of skepticism when he was redeemed.

So, we will be looking at “A Christmas Carol”, stanza (or stave) by stanza through December.

It is my hope that you will be truly blessed this Christmas, joyfully surrounded by family and friends.  It is my hope that you will find time to simply breathe and allow the wonderful mystery of God become flesh to envelop you and rejuvenate you.



Your pastor,