The end of Stave I concerns itself with the appearance of Marley’s ghost. Scrooge first notes that something is wrong when he spies Marley’s face in the knocker on his door. We might wonder at the purpose of this little tease before Marley’s grand entrance. But up to this point, nothing fazes Scrooge. He has no sympathy for his fellow man. Cold only begins to describe his personality. And we wonder—or maybe we don’t—what will change this man?
So Dickens wants us to know that the fantastic, at least, gets Scrooge to thinking and wondering and checking behind doors when he otherwise would not. For it seems that all the nephews and clerks and Christmas-carols-through-keyholes in the world are not going to alter Scrooge’s disdain for his fellow man, especially the poor. What we see so clearly as evil, Scrooge just sees as a proper way of doing business. So he needs to be shaken a little. He needs to be shown from another perspective what his life is like. The coldness of his routine has blinded him to the needs around him.
What about us? Where do we need to be shaken so that we see our own shortcomings? For in reality, Scrooge’s problem is not that he is unwilling to make a change. His problem is that he doesn’t see that any changes need to be made.
The wonder of the incarnation is that it can shake us: God in the flesh—a love so amazing that it moves us from our coldness and blindness. A real human lived out the character of God all the way to the cross that we might see our own shortcomings. That is grace. Paul told the Romans that it was God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Does all that seem fantastic? Good, if it will lead us out of our routine and allow us to see what needs to be changed.