I hope you’ll forgive this recycling 🙂 . The following is a round-up of previous blog posts on Christmas and Dickens.
I wish you all a peaceful and very happy Christmas.
Dickens and Christmas
‘Christmas day becomes a reassuring antidote to the factory jobs and crowded cities of Victorian England … We can identify with Scrooge in his miserliness, yet also long for his redemption. The message of Christmas is that God understands our miserly, selfish human condition and provides our redemption through His son, Jesus. The message of Christmas remains that the babe in the manger on Christmas morning was God’s “unspeakable gift” to the human race.’ Dr Jim Eckman, ‘Charles Dickens and the Message of Christmas’. See Dickens and Christmas post for more.
Christmas, Presents and Dickens
So why do people celebrate Christmas with presents? The Bible presents Christ coming to earth as God’s gift to humanity: ‘he will save his people from their sins’(Matthew 1:21). The Bible consistently stresses the need to share the love of God with others, irrespective of race or religion, to care for the sick, the needy and ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). Christmas was a shared cultural reference point in Victorian England so it was an effective symbol for Dickens to use but his message, like that of the biblical text, does not restrict itself to one day. See Christmas, Presents & Dickens for more.
If you’d like to read ‘A Christmas Carol’ it’s available free courtesy of the excellent Gutenberg project, along with this image.
Christmas Controversy – what the panto didn’t tell you
The first Christmas led to terrrifying bloodshed. Jesus may have come to bring peace between God and man but Herod (the political King of the Jews) was so afraid that ‘He gave orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old or younger’ (Matthew 2:16) in an attempt to kill Christ. Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt until Herod died so the young Christ was in effect a political refugee.
Christ didn’t come as an earthly prince and live in a palace – famously Mary ‘laid him on a bed of hay because there was no room for them at the inn’ (Luke 2:7). The stable, donkeys, sheep etc so beloved by children’s nativity plays don’t feature in the biblical text. The three kings don’t either, although ‘wise men’ do. As Clint Archer points out, ‘We tolerate the poetic inaccuracy of “We three kings of Orient are” because it rolls off the tongue better than “We indeterminable number of Gentile scholars of Persia are.”’ What’s significant is that the wise men were invited to see Jesus ie he came for everyone, not just the Jews.