How do you not love the Cratchits? Dickens’s style changes a bit here. Try reading it out loud, and you’ll get a feeling of the “ubiquitous young Cratchits.” It’s a merry jaunt into the lives of Bob’s family. And despite the frequent references to their poverty, isn’t this the place you’d want to be on Christmas day?
I know lots of happy, genuinely joyful people, people who are fun to be around—who make it fun to be around them. And the Cratchits are these kind of people. If Anne, of Anne of Green Gables, ever met the Cratchits, she would say they are part of “the race that knows Joseph.” (I apologize for the obscure literary allusion, but now you’ll just have to read that delightfully, wonderful series of books to find out what I mean. You won’t be disappointed.) From what we know of their life, this description of their family makes it difficult to close the book and then complain about much—if we’ve read carefully and thoughtfully.
And there’s the rub. At least for me, the temptation is to rush through things, not pay attention, not think on them, check it off, and move on. But we must pause a bit; we need to let their life and their response to life sink in. No, it’s not perfect. We see Mrs. Cratchit push back against Bob’s toast to Scrooge. These are not perfect people, but Bob’s reckless joy is contagious, and we need to attend to that for more than just a few minutes while we plow through the story. We need to mull on why he is like that. We need to mull on whether we are like that.
And the same is true when we read the Scriptures. It is easy, especially when we are reading something we’ve read a thousand times before—like the Christmas story—to read it, remember what happened, let our mind wonder, finish up, and say, “Yup, that’s how it happened.”
Or we can stop for a moment and consider the sheer absurdity of what we just read: God has intervened in the lives of men.
In A Christmas Carol, the absurdity is that the poor are filled with good things and the rich are empty. Funny, that’s also the message of the Christmas story in the Scriptures (See especially, Mary’s song in Luke 1).
The good news is that Jesus turns things upside down, and that is really good news for us. We need turning upside down. Our wrong needs to be made right. Our rebellion needs to be redeemed. Our poverty of spirit needs the blessing of the lavishness of God’s Spirit. And Christmas was the beginning of that for us. So celebrate Christmas like Bob. Love on your family. Bless your enemies. And enjoy the time that God has given you.