By Rob Buzza
As we continue to reminisce about our favourite classic Christmas movie moments, we can’t forget Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
It’s timeless message makes it worth watching every year and, fortunately, we can see it as live theatre at Maple Ridge Christian School over the next few days.
If you’re going to watch a movie version of the story, I recommend the Alastair Sim portrayal, released in 1951. There are so many poignant moments, like Scrooge watching his fiancé Alice sobbing after their breakup, Bob Cratchit’s simple but happy Christmas celebration, Tiny Tim’s indomitable spirit, and the future glimpse of that same family grieving Tim’s death.
I love the emotional contrast of those heart-wrenching scenes with the heart-warming finale where Scrooge can hardly contain his giddiness at being given a second chance.
The acting is superb and the message is compelling in each of those moments, but one other scene for me stands out above the rest. Scrooge is being transported ahead in time by the hooded ghost of his future when he overhears his maid, Mrs. Dilber. She is speaking disparagingly about a man who has just passed away, alone, as she turns in some of his things to a local pawnbroker. After asking who this man was, he is taken to a foreboding cemetery. When he sees in the eerie shadows his own headstone, Scrooge asks the spirit: “are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?
Fortunately, Scrooge was given a second chance – an opportunity to rewrite his epitaph.
While it makes for a great story, and a classic Christmas movie moment, the truth is we only get one chance to live our lives on this earth (Hebrews 9:27). I often encourage my students (I teach at a theological school) to write their own epitaph now and begin to live the rest of their lives the way they want to be remembered.
Scrooge realized he was wasting his life by taking and not giving back, thinking that the accumulation of wealth would bring him happiness.
We see the same delusion all around us, people buying into the American dream (we have our Canadian version), the so-called “pursuit of happiness,” only to discover the nightmare of a wasted life. Happiness will always elude the one who selfishly pursues it. Real happiness is a byproduct of loving others (John 15:11,12).
Jesus said that if we learn to love others as He loves us, our joy will be full.
This Christmas, and throughout the year ahead, we might want to learn from Scrooge.
Rob Buzza is pastor of North Ridge Church.