December 26, 2012

More than a Christmas Carol

by George Lawson

Bah Humbug!“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.”

It’s a Christmas classic that has been around for almost one-hundred and seventy years. Scrooge has taken his place right alongside of a red-nosed reindeer, a talking snowman, and a little boy named Charlie Brown. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the old miser’s “Bah, humbug!”

While Christmas may have been a “humbug” for Ebenezer, it certainly wasn’t for Charles Dickens. What many people don’t know is that A Christmas Carol was only one of five Christmas Stories that Charles Dickens wrote. The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain were all stories that focused on this holiday.

charles dickensIn addition to this, Dickens authored a little known book in 1849, written expressly for his children called, The Life of Our Lord. He never intended it to be publicized, and made it clear that he had written it in a form he thought best suited his children. He frequently told his children the gospel story and wanted to make sure the narrative of Christ was told in a way that was simple enough for them to understand.

Listen to his introduction…

the life of our lord“My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in anyway ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven, is without knowing who he was and what he did…. He was born, a long-long time ago – nearly Two Thousand years ago – at a place called Bethlehem” (Charles Dickens, The Life of Our Lord p. 1).

Dickens provides us an illustration of one man’s attempt to follow the exhortation of Psalm 78:4, “We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”

family worshipAre we anxious that our dear children know about the history of Jesus Christ? Are we telling the generation to come about the praises of the Lord? Are we communicating God’s strength and wondrous works in ways that our children can understand? Are we frequently telling the gospel story?

I am not familiar with all that Charles Dickens believed, so this is by no means a defense of his theology. But I am challenged and convicted by his example and effort to pass the story of Christ on to his children.

The Christ of Christmas was more than a “humbug” for Charles Dickens, and he made sure that his children knew it!

George Lawson

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George is a graduate of The Master's Seminary and is the Pastor-Teacher of Baltimore Bible Church, a new church plant in Baltimore, MD (www.baltimorebiblechurch.org)
  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.heitman.5 Karl Heitman

    Thanks for sharing this. i didn’t know this about Dickens, which is not surprising…. At Christmastime around the world, Christian families included, Jesus is just another ingredient added to the holiday to be mixed in with Santa, trees, gifts, and food. I’m finding out that it’s very very difficult to break cultural and family traditions to take the emphasis away from Jesus. The story of Jesus should be primary…all the time! Merry Christmas!!

    • outreaching

      I agree, and we’re fighting the same battle to keep the story of Christ as our focus, on Christmas and the other 364 days on our calendar. Christ deserves first place on every one of them. Merry Christmas!

  • http://truthwithoutexcuse.blogspot.com/ Kyle Vanover

    Thanks for sharing this. I knew DIckens had written other Christmas stories, but I didn’t know about the one for his kids! Incidentally, I wrote about Christian messages in A Christmas Carol on my blog just last week. Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://truthwithoutexcuse.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-cure-for-scrooge-itis.html?m=1

    • outreaching

      Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.weaver.5076 Jeff Weaver

    This is great! I’m challenged by this example, at how a father is taking initiative to love and care for his children. There is a passiveness in me that invites a contrary option: “well sunday school will teach them”, or “mom will get to it”, or a “video.” These kinds of intra-family teaching stories help provide living examples of the bible commands to fathers. Thanks again for sharing.

    • outreaching

      Thanks Jeff! I’m thankful for both Sunday school teachers and mothers, but as you point out, neither one takes the weight of instruction off the shoulders of godly fathers.

  • GinaRD

    Glad you mentioned “The Life of Our Lord” — I’m fond of that little book. :-) Speaking of Dickens, a very good book about his beliefs just came out this year: “God and Charles Dickens” by Gary Colledge. Well worth a read.