2019 Advent Devo: Transformation

On this day, 176 years ago, Charles Dickens waited anxiously for the dawning of tomorrow, December 19, 1843, when the first edition of A Christmas Carol would be published.  Struggles with printers and publishers had exhausted Dickens and the young writer, still eager to achieve success, wondered how British readers would react to his story.  The story met with great acclaim as the first printing of 6000 books sold out by Christmas Eve. Continuously in print all these years, the book still captures the hearts of readers around the world.

Because of Dickens, Scrooge is universally used to describe a miserly, joyless, selfish person and bah-humbug is the quintessential expression dampening the enthusiasm of others.  While Scrooge and his routine expression of bah-humbug may be the most recognized parts of the story, the true meaning is captured in the minor character of Tiny Tim, the young crippled son of Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit.  Tiny Tim becomes the antithesis of Scrooge counterbalancing bah-humbug with “God bless us, every one!”  Dickens’ novel connects the characters of Tiny Tim and Scrooge and uses the boy’s plight and enduring, endearing, loving attitude to soften the heart of Scrooge.

Luke 18 reminds us that a trusting, loving attitude as demonstrated by Tiny Tim is indicative of the kingdom.

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”” Luke‬ 18:15-17‬ ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Luke 18:18 introduces us to a character known as the rich young ruler.  In many ways he seems to be admirable. However, his reaction to Jesus’ response to his question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life,” reveals the heart of Scrooge. The young man loves money more than God.  We don’t know what happened to the rich young ruler. Perhaps he lived out his life outside the kingdom. Or maybe, like Scrooge, he encountered a change of heart and was transformed by the promise Jesus offered at the end of the encounter.

“And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”” Luke‬ 18:29-30‬ ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Christmas brings hope to all of us as it helps us understand that the Gospel is Good News. It has the power to transform the “scroogiest” of us and turn our bah-humbugs to hallelujah!

You are loved!
James Peterman