At this time of year, I enjoy revisiting the tale of those uninvited night visitors who, each in turn, play host to a captive audience of one.
I particularly like the 1951 black and white version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim playing the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge. I’m certain that Alastair Sim was exactly the character Charles Dickens imagined when he wrote the book.
I love the story because it’s about seeing things as they really are for the first time.
When Jacob Marley’s groaning spirit appears, his very image is a warning. Burdened by heavy, clanking chains, Marley implores Scrooge (and us) to look upon him and to see the blinding, preoccupying, and enslaving power of our idols
Then, each in their turn, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future beckon Scrooge to look—and to finally see—the things that were, the things that are, and the things that are to come. Through the visions they present, each spirit invites Scrooge to learn from what he sees and to participate in his own spiritual awakening.
Scrooge sees. He learns. And he embraces a new way of life. Then, when he awakens from his dream-filled sleep, he’s really awake–for the first time. With his new eyes this former miser sees opportunities all around him to enter into the joy of giving to others.
Ebeneezer Scrooge is light as a feather, and giddy as a schoolgirl.
Now, I’ve been visited by many a spirit in my time, and I can tell you that they don’t all have good intentions. Though these spirits often present themselves to me as wise guides offering me enlightening visions, they hide their true identities. I’ve taken many night walks with the spirit of regret, the spirit of anxiety, the spirit of bitterness, the spirit of despair and countless others.
But I have also been visited by the real Ghost of Christmas—the Holy Ghost Himself. I remember a time not too long ago when, just like Dickens’ benevolent spirits, the Ghost of Christmas took me to places in my past where I didn’t want to go. But when He revealed things to me, and I saw them, and embraced the truth He showed me, He set me free.
For the first time, I was awake–really awake. I was light as a feather, giddy as a schoolgirl, and bold as a lion. And I saw opportunities all around me to enter into the joy of giving myself to others.
Through the presence of the Spirit, I became fully present to the world around me .Of course, that has been God’ s plan all along. On that first Christmas, God came near in the person of Jesus. After Christ ascended, God came nearer still. Jesus came to be our Emmanuel—God with us. This is the great news that’s worth celebrating.
The Ghost of Christmas is present.