One of my favourite stories that I watch every Christmas season is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I like the version with Alistar Sims as Ebenezer best of all, but I must admit the Muppet version is also charming.
While walking through the Grade 9 Language Arts class the other day, I was reminded about this story, and about Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart. While it may not specifically talk about it in the story, the key plot twist is that (like the Grinch) Ebenezer’s heart is changed.
“Ebenezer”, as it is used in the Bible, actually refers to a standing stone or a stone of remembrance. Samuel sets up an Ebenezer to commemorate a great victory for the Israel nation near Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:12), and the twelve tribes also each set up a standing stone at Gilgal after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land (Joshua 4). The purpose of these standing stones is to remind the people that God has done a great thing here. In “A Christmas Carol”, God has done a great thing. In changing Scrooge’s heart, God is teaching him to care for others and give from his abundance.
In many ways, this is also the purpose of Advent - it is to remind us that God has done a great thing here. As our church lights the candles of advent - Hope, Peace, Joy, Love - it reminds us of the life-changing impact Christ can have on our world. Christ brings hope to those who are hurting and feeling despair. Christ brings peace to those who are experiencing conflict, either personally or around the world. Christ brings joy to our lives - we recognize that our joy is not dictated by our circumstances, but by the joy of family, church fellowship, and friends. And Christ brings love … no, make that Christ IS love. He shows us how to love by first demonstrating his own love for us! The centre of all this - the standing stone of Christmas - is Jesus.
May you have a blessed Christmas this year. May you enjoy the comfort of family and friends. May you find the joy in your hearts that permits you to give joyously to those around you. May you find the love of Jesus in your heart.
God Bless, and Merry Christmas!
George Graffunder, MSCS Vice Principal