Monday, December 21 2015
“Spirit! hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this experience. Why show me this, if I am past all hope? Good Spirit, your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life. I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
Good morning, friends! We are now in the final days leading up to Christmas. Let’s get to it. Today is our last day of quotes from “A Christmas Carol”, and I’ve saved my favorite from the story. It is the consummate quote, I think.
To paint the scene each of the three spirits (Past, Present and Future) has engaged Scrooge and now he faces his ultimate destination… alone, friendless, without love. The spirits have revealed to him how he has first shut out people and with them their love and concern and emotional support. It is a cold, dark night Scrooge grovels on his grave stone begging for another chance, as cold and dark as his heart. Can he wipe away the past and change his future? It is the most powerful question any of us faces.
I am not here to judge your past. I don’t even encourage you to judge your past. Evaluate your past honestly and objectively. Take stock of the life you’ve chosen. Is it the life you sought? Is it the life you desire? Is it the life you need? Is it the best life for you now? You can change nothing about your past but your future, beginning right now, is completely yours to change if you choose.
The subtle story of Scrooge is that he could not wipe away the writing of his past. He did blow it with Belle. He did alienate his family. He did chase away any opportunity for friends. He did create a hell for himself. But the writing of his future was unwritten; there were no words to wipe away, only words to write, a story to create, a life to live. This is your story and mine! Change isn’t immediate or easy. It rarely is comfortable. Still, change is always possible. Give yourself the greatest gift you can this Christmas by making the best choices possible for yourself. See your better life and become it. It will be the best Christmas ever when you do.
And remember this: good, bad or indifferent, God loves you, and so do I. Merry Christmas, friends.
Monday, December 14 2015
“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
Greetings, friends! Happy Spring to you! What? This isn’t springtime? You could have fooled me. Our tulips are attempting to bloom, no kidding. Talk about global weirding. Alas, I hope your week has begun well, hot or cold.
We continue this month with quotes from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Today’s quote is a heart warming word from Bob Cratchit regarding his son, Tim. Tim, as you remember, is handicapped with some ailment that challenges his life. It is an ailment of poverty; the story reveals that with Ebenezer Scrooge’s monetary help he can be healed. Yet we meet Tim in the story in poverty, but not in sorrow. He is given the best character in the book, the very picture of hope, love, grace and forgiveness.
I’ll share story about my dad. My dad was hurt on the job in 1971 and paralyzed from the waist down. He was 41; I was 6. He lived 10 years after the accident during a time when wheelchairs were not welcome in society. But dad never complained, and he never questioned his circumstance, and he never wished for what wasn’t so far as I know. He took his circumstance and made the best of it, a la Tim Cratchit. And not ironically at all he died a happy and fulfilled man.
A reasonable description of my pastoral job may be “keeper of stories”. I know the hurts, losses, fears, joys, dreams, and more. I have my own story. We all have a story. The challenge in all stories is to find contentment in the day even while we live in hope for tomorrow. I don’t know your story but I do know your choice: will you be content and hopeful or discontent and frustrated? These are the two pairs we face; they go hand in hand.
I hope you will take stock of your life this Christmas and walk the way of Tim Cratchit. Your story isn’t permanent, but how you deal with it in the moment is so important. The message of Christmas is love, joy, peace and hope. These are the same experiences of contentment. Be content, even if not settled. Your spirit will thank you for it! And I’ll make the same commitment. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, December 07 2015
“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
Fred Holywell (to Ebenezer Scrooge)
Good afternoon, friends! I hope your journey to Christmas is a blessed on so far. I know there is abundant stress to go around, but reject any gifts of stress if you can. We’re back to “A Christmas Carol” this week.
Happiness is a dream of almost every person I know. Sure, I’ve ministered to a person or two who were so mired in misery that they seemed opposed to happiness, but even in them I’ve seen the dream of happiness. The question is, how deep is the dream buried in you?
In today’s quote we see the polar opposites of the happiness dream. On one side is Scrooge, who has passed on every opportunity for happiness in pursuit of profit. In particular he spurned Belle, the love of his youth. Scrooge put his bet on business, going all in to find happiness and joy in profit. In our quote Fred subversively calls Scrooge out, drawing the line between them. Scrooge it seems will not invest in anything that does not profit in tangible earnings.
Fred, on the other hand, clearly finds happiness in a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant life. Though it may not put a scrap of gold or silver in his pocket, what profit is there in Fred’s chosen pursuit of happiness? Love, I would say. Good for you, Fred. You figured out a happy life long before Scrooge, and better for you for trying to teach him.
Have you figured out the key to a happy life? Believe it or not, everything you need to be as happy as you could ever imagine is right there in your hands, right now. Project kindness, be forgiving, be charitable, be pleasant. None of these really cost you anything (and don’t tell me helping others breaks your bank..), but they profit you everything in love and happiness. What matters every day is the investment you choose to make. Will it be in self or profits, or will it be in others? You can neither buy, earn nor rent lasting happiness, but in giving you will receive more happiness than you have room to store. And it will be the answer to your deepest dream!
I hope you are finding happiness these days, but don’t look outside yourself. Look in, and have a wonderful week!