(Post by: Michelle Hobbs) Blogmas Day Twenty-Seven
Well friends, we are in that strange time between Christmas and New Year’s when you never know exactly what day it is, and you feel like you should be doing something but can’t quite figure out what. Maybe it’s just me, but this week feels like a haze each year.
I am determined, however, to continue to reflect on Christ’s first coming and prepare my heart for His second coming.
As I do so, my mind keeps coming back to Christmas Eve and our tradition of having, what we call, a Shepherd’s Meal. We shared a simple meal with some extended family members and readied ourselves for Christmas Day by focusing on the Christmas story and what Christ has done for us.
This year, our discussion gravitated toward a contemplation of “Home”. We talked about Mary and Joseph being away from home, the Shepherds being startled by the angels as they were spending just another normal night at home, Jesus coming to earth and making Himself homeless on our behalf, and how our own relationship with Jesus has transformed our idea of home and what it should look and feel like.
Then last night, as we watched (to no one’s surprise) A Christmas Carol, I was struck by the contrasting examples of home portrayed in Scrooge’s salvation story.
It begins in Scrooge’s office which is cold enough for Bob Cratchit, his clerk, to see his breath, but no more coal was allowed to be put on the fire. It was gray and gloomy and without any kindness. The book (A Christmas Carol) says about Scrooge, “External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather could chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.” Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?
Scrooge’s home is much the same with dingy gray walls, sparse furniture, and no personal items. No one ever comes to visit him, and he likes it that way!
But then the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to the office that he was apprenticed in when he was a young man. Old Mr. Fezziwig’s office was a stark contrast to Scrooge’s current office. The scene is of Christmas Eve, and we see the Fezziwig’s wrapping up the workday with delight and preparing the office for their annual Christmas Eve party. People arrive, there is music, dancing, singing, and food. It is the picture of hospitality, and as old Scrooge looked on, “His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self… he remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation.”
““A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”
“Small!” echoed Scrooge.
“Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money; three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”
“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ‘em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”
He felt the Spirit’s glance, and stopped.
“What is the matter?” asked the Ghost.
“Nothing particular,” said Scrooge.
“Something, I think?” The Ghost insisted.
“No,” said Scrooge, “No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That’s all.””
Scrooge’s hard heart was beginning to soften through the power of hospitality. Through the reminder of how Mr. Fezziwig made work enjoyable, even if it was the same hard work Scrooge is doing now. He had the power, through his leadership and attitude, to make people feel welcome, comfortable, at home.
There are other illustrations of home in the story, as well. There is the meager, but yet bountiful home of Bob Cratchit. His family had little, but they enjoyed each other’s love and kindness immensely and never complained about the small portions of food or lack of gifts to exchange.
There is also the home of Fred, Scrooge’s unrelenting nephew, who continues to invite his uncle to dine with them year after year, only to be very rudely turned down. Yet, on this Christmas Day, the day of Scrooge’s salvation, Fred gets a shock to find Scrooge peaking into his dining room.
“”Why bless my soul!” cried Fred, “who’s that?”
“It’s I. Your Uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”
Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier…”
You know the rest of the story. Because he found Christ, Scrooge transforms his office atmosphere to be like that of Mr. Fezziwig’s, and he opens his home to anyone who would like to visit.
Fellow Christians, are you not inspired to make your homes like those of Mr. Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, and Fred? I am! Now, I must admit, hospitality does not come naturally to me. I did not grow up in a home like that, but I am determined to make my current home full of Christ’s love.
Something as simple as treating our co-workers with kindness; working together to make the burden lighter, as Mr. Fezziwig did, or having a loving tone with our spouse and children, refusing to focus on the negative or our lack, but enjoying the blessing of one another’s company, as Bob Cratchit did, can make all the difference in the lives of those we encounter every day.
And, what about Fred’s example? Here is the perfect picture of how we should pursue the lost souls around us. Fred was not pushy, but with love and respect, he continued to invite his uncle to share in his family’s hospitality year after year. Finally, when Scrooge was ready, he knew where to go to find acceptance. To feel at home.
I pray the Lord makes me and you more like Old Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, and Fred this year. That our very presence, with the Holy Spirit working through us, can make people feel at home no matter where we are. Let’s also be determined to use our actual homes to show hospitality to those who need it. The lost, the weary, the brokenhearted should all know where to come when they need to feel at home.
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