I attended a performance of “A Christmas Carol” this evening. My son sings in the high school chorus that accompanied the reading. As I sat listening I thought, “What if THAT MAN had been here tonight and heard these words – this old story told a hundred different ways and a thousand thousand times – read so vigorously by the Minister? What if he had listened to these carols, these accomplished young voices are singing? Would he have been moved as I was by the sound of the organ and voices filling that old chapel – its’ cornerstone laid on December 20, 1866 – in The First Baptist Church on Elm Street? Would he find the lesson in Dickens’ brilliant writing as stirring as I did tonight? Would the inspiration that opens the heart, open his? This story – published December 19, 1843 – moves me, a Jewish man, as I suspect it moves Christians,Muslims,Hindus,Buddhists and Atheists alike. Would this deceptively simple story of reflection and redemption have reached and changed him tonight? Could it? Oh that it could! Let us pray. All who wish to take this old tale’s lesson to heart. Let us try, at least,to take this lesson to heart. I think you may agree, this is not so simple a task, for any of us.
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“It matters little,” she said, softly. “To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.”
“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined.
“A golden one.”
“This is the even-handed dealing of the world!” he said. “There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!”
“You fear the world too much,” she answered, gently. “All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?”