Every year when I prepare to write my Christmas sermon, there are two things that I always do. First is the very obvious, I sit and think about the scriptures appointed for Christmas at midnight, namely Isaiah 7:2-9 and Luke 2:1-20. But there is also another thing I do. I watch Scrooge the 1952 film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, staring Alistair Simm. Each time I read those passages of scripture and watch that movie, there is always something new that hits the heart and the mind very differently each time I encounter it.
This year, in taking into consideration the situation the world finds itself in at the time of writing this article, we have conflicts in many parts of the world, including the conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, and Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The thing that is tugging at my heart and mind is both the scene nearing end of Scrooge’s encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the words of Isaiah: “And he shall be called…Prince of Peace.”
In that final encounter between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, the Ghost, who at the beginning appears larger than life but is now average size, the Ghost opens his robe and shows two impoverished children: a boy and a girl, belonging to humanity. The Ghost tells Scrooge that these children are Ignorance and Want. As much as Dickens was attacking the situation of Victorian England, the very same can apply to our own time, in that we too need to be aware of ignorance and want. We have people who have many wants but may be very ignorant of the situation that is around their neighbour. We have those who in ignorance want things that do not line up with the very thing that they are looking for, namely the Prince of Peace.
If there is one thing that the child of the manger brings to us, it’s not only peace, but an end to the ignorance and want in our lives. The child of the manger not only brings the dismantling of ignorance and want, but also brings to us the hope we have in our lives for a better tomorrow, joy which no one can take from us, and the love which overcomes all ignorance, want and wrong.
As we celebrate the child of the manger, who becomes the man of the cross and the defeater of death, may we too encounter him and may he change our hearts, and celebrate him every day and not just one day of the year.