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Christmas - if it’s true it changes everything

starandlightsAs Christmas approaches Rev Ian Dyble looks at the transformation of Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” and asks whether we will let the evidence of God’s love for us in Christ change us this advent.

We can have very mixed feelings about Christmas.  Some love it whilst others can't stand it; some approach it with excitement and others with despair.

Some years ago I was given Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as an early Christmas present and it's now become a tradition for me to read it each Christmas Eve. The main character, Scrooge, has become synonymous with a mean attitude, and his phrase 'bah,   humbug!' shows us how much he despised Christmas.

"Humbug" is defined as 'an attitude or spirit of pretence and deception, nonsense or drivel' and he first uses the term when he encounters Marley's ghost.  He simply won't believe what is in front of his eyes.

Dickens' evocative and descriptive style, the character development and the tale of transformation add together to make a really good story.  He writes great fiction and there are those who think that the Christmas story is no more than that.  So is the Christmas story just 'humbug'?

I was a lawyer for 22 years, both as a solicitor and then a barrister, before becoming the vicar of St Thomas church.  Evidence interests me.  The evidence supporting the life, death and resurrection of Christ is strong. 

Prof Thomas Arnold, who was Head of Rugby School and Chair of Modern History at Oxford University stated:
'I have for many years been used to studying the histories of other times, and to examining and weighing the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact   in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair inquirer than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.' 

It is the birth of this Christ that we celebrate at Christmas. This is no mere fiction but the story of God's love for the world; a broken world that no amount of hedonistic pleasure or material possession can heal.  "God so loved the world that He sent his only Son - at Christmas - that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  (John 3:16).

Marley's ghost asks Scrooge "Man of the worldly mind, do you believe in me or not?"  "I do" replies Scrooge, confronted with the evidence, "I must."  
And what of us this Christmas?  In all the worldliness of the season shall we let the evidence of God's love for us in Christ confront us once again and ask us that same question? Do you believe in me or not?  For if it's true, it changes everything. 

Rev Ian Dyble was appointed as the Priest in Charge of St Thomas Church, Norwich in the spring of 2013, having served as a curate at Holy Trinity Brompton.  

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