We left worship last week with the fearful words of Ebenezer Scrooge ringing in our ears: “’No, no,’ said Scrooge. ‘Oh, no, kind Spirit. say he will be spared.” Scrooge was responding to the empty stool and ownerless crutches in the corner where Tiny Tim once sat, a child Scrooge had come to love because of his infectious love for life. The Ghost of Christmas Present responds with the very words of Scrooge himself: “‘If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,’ returned the Ghost, ‘will find him here. What then? “If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”’ Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.”
My colleague, Pastor Rachel, said to you last week that you had to come back today to hear what happens, to receive an explanation of the future.
A pretty tough task she left for me, to tell you the future.
I figured that I could at least remind you of what happens in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The Ghost of Christmas Present leaves Scrooge in his shame and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a sequence of mysterious scenes relating to an unnamed man’s recent death. Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead man’s riches, some beggars trading his personal effects for cash, and a poor couple expressing relief at the death of their unforgiving creditor. Scrooge, anxious to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, begs to know the name of the dead man. After pleading with the silent ghost, Scrooge finds himself in a churchyard, the spirit pointing to a grave. Scrooge looks at the headstone and is shocked to read his own name.
“Answer me one question,” he asks the silent spirit. “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be, only?”
“Hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been…Why show me this, if I am past all hope! ...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.” And he suddenly finds himself safely tucked in his bed.
Scrooge has an opportunity to do a death-defying act, to alter the future.
It’s a fantasy, but is it really?
Can we alter the future?
You can check out the rest of the sermon here.