What is your fondest Christmas memory? Mine took place one Christmas when I was 8 years old. It wasn’t because it was the Christmas that I got a NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), but it was that I spent that Christmas Eve and day with my cousins at my grandparent’s house. We had just finished watching, Santa Claus: The Movie, and decided that we would try to make our own Christmas movie that year. What I do remember about our Christmas movie was that it was about a young boy that wanted Santa Claus to bring home his military father from overseas. As I recall that Christmas I have several regrets. I regret that we didn’t record it or at least take pictures of that night. I regret that we didn’t keep the script we wrote. I regret that that night never happened again. Sure, there were other Christmas Days that I spent with various loved ones and I have other fond memories, but that Christmas was special.
I have a decision to make about that memory. I could be sad and grieve over the fact that I will never have that Christmas again or I could be thankful for that memory and try to make new memories to be fond about. In the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Christmas Past who takes him back to visit pleasant and unpleasant memories of his past Christmases. It is easy to see that Ebenezer Scrooge suffered from his memories. Scrooge most likely had many regrets, but we can also see that his past wasn’t necessarily pleasant. One of the memories he has is of a Christmas were he is left to spend alone at boarding school while other students went home to be with their families. Scrooge had a very tough and unloving father who had to be begged by Scrooge’s sister, Fran, so that Scrooge could come home for Christmas. We can see very clearly in the story how Scrooge became the bitter man he was. At the end of the journey to his past, Ebenezer Scrooge pleads with the spirit to show him no more, to which the spirit replies:
“These are the shadows of things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me!”
Angered by the visions of his past, Ebenezer Scrooge goes to sleep probably wishing he could undo or at least go on ignoring them. How do the memories of Christmases past affect you? Do you look forward to Christmas hoping to rekindle the joy of Christmases past? Do you mumble “Bah! Humbug!” as you recall bad memories or as reflect on good ones that will never happen again?
This Christmas maybe our joy can be restored as we celebrate Christ as the redeemer of our past. One of my absolute favorite hymns to sing during Advent is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This hymn is a Latin hymn from the 18th century that takes us back to the mind of old Israel longing for the first coming of the Messiah. Israel longed for restoration. Israel wanted what it had once had but lost. God’s plan, rather than returning to Israel what it once had, an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. Was to redeemed us all for a much greater kingdom that is not bound by earthly restrictions. There is our hope this Christmas season, while we may not have what we once did, we also are not bound by who we once were. We are redeemed by Christ for something much greater, a kingdom that is past, present, and to come! Join us this Sunday for Sunday school at 9:30 AM and Worship at 10:30 AM where we will explore this and more in greater detail.
In God’s grip,
Rev. Chuck Church