On December 24, 2013

Christmas Time: Christmas Future

“The future is the major time zone in which Christian faith has it’s being.” -Teilhard de Chardin

“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.” -Charles Dickens

Christmas Time Picture

I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the best turns of any character in any story is when Scrooge wakes up, a new man, on Christmas morning. He can’t give away his fortune quick enough, but what I love the most about it is the great sense of joy about the whole scene. He once was a stingy miser but now he’s found, or more to the point, something found him.

And the great turn of the story for Scrooge, was Christmas Future.

When Charles Dickens was a boy, his father was put in a poor-house/prison. And young Charles was forced to start hard manual labor, just to be able to survive. For the rest of his life, Charles held hard feelings toward his father, his relationship to his dad was a mixed bag at best (most people thought that his dad was the Scrooge character from his story).

In other words, Charles Dickens life wasn’t all roses and sunshine. In fact, it was probably more like Tiny Tim’s than anyone else in his story. But that is an interesting background because Dickens wrote a story of pure joy, when he lived a life that was quite a bit less than that. In fact, so was his whole world. When Charles wrote his Christmas Carol, Britain was a somber, gloomy place, and maybe that’s exactly why he wrote this little world-changing story.

He wrote a story, that became one of the the most well-known stories to make Christmas a time of hope again.

In fact, it was His hope that drove him to tell this story.

I think it was his picture of Christmas Future.

And Christmas Future is not something that we Americans tend to think much about.

In the words of theologian Mirslov Volf:

“My sense is that contemporary culture does not have this nation of a definite future toward which we are headed, but rather an empty concept of the perpetual novelty has replaced a stable and morally filled concept of the future….The resultant feeling is like driving a fast-moving car on a highway. Our experience of life is like a blur-not stable images, integrated into a larger framework of meaning. “

The End of Revolutions

Did you know that the original “War on Christmas” came from the Christians? Several decades ago, ministers across America saw the commercialization of Christmas, and they didn’t want our stores saying “Merry Christmas” not because they didn’t want to celebrate Christmas, but because they didn’t want us to start celebrating Christmas as a way to legitimizing over-consuming.

They obviously were way off.

But I think they had more reasons that greed and materialism for this concern. Because consumerism convinces us that the most important moment in time is now. It creates a world that we are at the center of, and any world that I am at the center, is bound to be a very small and sad world.

Think about how many times you’ve seen the word “Revolutionary”  used in commercials lately. It seems like every new Iproduct says it is a revolutionary something.  Just because something is faster or brighter or has more color doesn’t mean it’s “World-Changing.” But we use this language as if we all know we want the world to be different, we know something is off.

We all want a revolution but all we get is an iPad.

Time Warner Cable has a current ad out right now saying “Join the revolution Enjoy life better.” As if enjoying life better is a change from what we are trying to do right now.

More than any other time, the Holiday season, has become a season where we use language that taps into our deep desire for the world to be different, but really has become a way to keep the world predictable.

And that really is a hopeless world.

And this is why the Scriptures that Christians have selected for over a thousand years for this season, are not just about mangers and shepherds and wise men.

Instead, for this season, the first Christians reached for the ancient prophets and their dreams of a world that was somehow different and better. A world without injustice or poverty, and ultimately a world without death.

And this is a glimpse of the Christmas Hope. It is what Christmas ultimately promises. God didn’t just enter our world to leave it like He found it. He came, and is coming again, to set things right. And what started at Bethlehem ends in the New Jerusalem. What started with a Baby coming down, ends with all of Heaven coming down.

That a revolution.

A Tomorrow Unlike Today

Maybe this is what Charles Dickens was drawing from when he gave the world a vision of a new Scrooge.Scrooge-with-Tiny-Tim2

A Scrooge who was living into Christmas Future.

I’ve noticed something about the human condition, we so badly want to not be naive, and anytime you hope you will find that it makes you vulnerable. It requires risk to put yourself out there and to give yourself over to great faith.

The Christmas story isn’t just about something that happened in the past. It is about something that will also happen in the future.

There is a new day coming and it won’t be like all the days that have gone before it.

This is the season where we abandon ourself to hope in that day.

It’s just around the corner,  in the words of  St. Teresa of Avila this new day will make the most miserable life will feel “like one night in a bad hotel.”

Christmas says that morning is coming.

The Light has entered the world.

So kill the Christmas Goose and let Tiny Tim have his operation.

Let the earth be glad and the Mountains clap for joy.

For all the Scrooges everywhere, For all the people with chairs that are empty and all the tables that are full.  God has entered the world and is setting it right.

And all shall be well in Christmas Future.

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  • TerryC

    This was quite a comfort for me today. As someone who struggles with loss, this time of year can be especially difficult. You’ve reminded me of hope, especially with this, “For all the Scrooges everywhere, For all the people with chairs that are empty and all the tables that are full. God has entered the world and is setting it right.” There’s always hard feelings and loss even amid joy. God entering the world gives us hope, not only as a future promise but everyday we follow Him.