News Articles

With apologies to Charles Dickens, a Cratchet & Scrooge Christmas story

DEERFIELD, Ill. (BP)–Scrooge: Humbug!

Bob Cratchet: What’s the matter?

Scrooge: Christmas!

Bob: Yeah, what’s wrong with that? It happens every year about this time.

Scrooge: I get so tired of all the holiday trappings. People are everywhere. These shopping malls are a mess. You shop ’til you drop. Then, when the big day comes, you get another pair of socks. Ugh! I’m not sure I can go through another so-called season of good cheer.

Bob: You know, you’re right. The Christmas season can be an awful burden.

Scrooge: Burden?! You just don’t know, buddy. I’ve run out of ideas for presents. If I get my wife another kitchen appliance, I’m dead meat. But, apart from that new salad spreader, I just can’t think of anything she needs. As soon as I finish this coffee, I’m going to scour every one of these stores ’til I find one.

Bob: A salad spreader?

Scrooge: Haven’t you seen it? Remember that salad shooter thing? It sliced and diced vegetables and shot them all over the kitchen.

Bob: Umm. I think I remember.

Scrooge: Well, this thing grinds up the vegetables into a lovely green sticky paste so you can spread it on sandwiches. It doesn’t look so hot to me, but, hey, it’s the big deal this year.

Bob: And you think your wife will like that?

Scrooge: She’d better. It’s the only thing she doesn’t already have.

Bob: Let me ask you … you did say your name was Mr. Scrooge, right?

Scrooge: Right.

Bob: Let me ask you, Mr. Scrooge, have you ever wondered what this Christmas thing is all about?

Scrooge: I know what it’s about. It’s about making big bucks. These toy manufacturers are making a killing. And what about the people who make the salad spreader? Sheesh!

Bob: (Chuckle) Well, you’re right, of course. Christmas has become a buying time of the year. And the commercialization of Christmas certainly robs much of the joy of the season. But have you ever really thought about why Christmas matters?

Scrooge: Hmm. Not really. (sigh) It’s just one big high-pressure sales pitch the way I see it.

Bob: Christmas is about gifts, all right. But maybe not the way you imagine.

Scrooge: See! I knew Christmas was going to get into my wallet again.

Bob: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in a little Israeli town named Bethlehem.

Scrooge: Everybody knows that.

Bob: Maybe. But do you know why Christmas matters?

Scrooge: Salad spreaders?

Bob: Hardly. Did you see the movie “Independence Day”?

Scrooge: Sure! Cool flick.

Bob: Well, Christmas celebrates the invasion of God into the world of human beings. And the results of that invasion have been far more explosive than anything Hollywood could imagine.

Scrooge: Really?

Bob: Really. In a little book all about joy, you’ll find this song, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6).

Scrooge: Well, snappy words, but not easy to dance to. I give it a 7.

Bob: (Laugh) No, it’s not that kind of song. It’s an ancient hymn.

Scrooge: What does it mean?

Bob: Here’s how the author introduces the hymn: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God ….” It’s a Christ hymn. It’s all about Jesus of Nazareth, that baby born in Bethlehem.

Scrooge: I see. But what does it mean, “being in very nature God”?

Bob: Just that. That baby born in a cattle stall in Bethlehem was in his very nature God. God came to earth as a baby.

Scrooge: Whoa! You’ve gotta be kidding. God is not the kind of being that walks around here with us. God is a force or a power. Sure, God might have caused some kind of big bang, but, God isn’t a baby.

Bob: Really? I’m sorry to hear that, because that kind of God can’t do anything about our problem.

Scrooge: Our problem? Finding a salad spreader?

Bob: No. Not that problem. That kind of God can’t do anything about our sin problem.

Scrooge: Hey, are you a preacher?

Bob: No. I’m not preaching. I’m talking about our deepest problem, Mr. Scrooge. And I want you to see with me why Christmas matters. Ever felt far away from God? Have you ever felt guilty and depressed over your own attitudes or choices?

Scrooge: Sure, doesn’t everyone? Especially this time of year. Man, this holiday stuff is a bummer.

Bob: The Christmas story is about a God who became a man in order to do something radical about our sin problem.

Scrooge: Oh yeah? God doesn’t know what it’s like here. God’s got it made. God doesn’t have to worry about a job. God doesn’t have to put up with teenagers who hate you one day and schmooze you the next day. God doesn’t have neighbors who are always taking the only parking spot on the street.

Bob: That’s the point. God came here and experienced what we experience. Jesus, God by his very nature, became a servant. He made himself a servant and came to us as a little baby. He grew up in a blue-collar family and worked with his hands. He is God with us.

Scrooge: He was a carpenter’s son, right? Made furniture and stuff.

Bob: That’s right. He knows what it is to eke out a living. He knows how hard it is to keep afloat.

Scrooge: Okay, so what? All my buddies know that too. So Jesus was in the same boat with us. So what?

Bob: Again. That’s the point. In order to do something about our sin problem, Jesus had to be both God and human. As human, he identifies with us. He knows our sorrows, pain, grief and struggles.

Scrooge: Bet he never had to find a salad spreader in a mall that was wall-to-wall people.

Bob: Probably not. But he did come to accomplish something far more difficult. He came to do something about our sin problem.

Scrooge: How could he do anything about that?

Bob: Remember that song? There’s more to it. Listen to this. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Scrooge: Why’d he do that? If he was really God, why would he die on a cross? I heard somewhere that people were crucified because they were terrible criminals. I mean, they had to be murderers and stuff like that.

Bob: Ah, you have heard something about this.

Scrooge: A little bit. But I’m confused now. If Jesus was God, why did he die? Doesn’t make any sense.

Bob: Oh, it makes perfect sense … once you know the whole story. You see, as a man, Jesus identified with us. He knew all about our problems, including our sin. But, since he is God, he did not have any sin of his own.

Scrooge: And that’s important because…?

Bob: Because of the way he handled our sin problem. In the original Christmas story the angels appeared to Joseph and told him, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Remember? He came to do something about our sin problem. He came to save us from our sin.

Scrooge: How did he do that? I mean, there are times when I don’t do the right thing. Sometimes I even regret the things I do. But that’s just water under the bridge, right?

Bob: Not exactly. Did you know the Bible says that sin has separated us from God? One of the reasons we feel so empty sometimes is because there’s something radically wrong with our relationship with God. We are sinful. He is holy. We are unrighteous. He is perfectly righteous.

Scrooge: Now I do feel bad. If what you are saying is true, there’s nothing I can do about my … er … sin problem, as you put it.

Bob: Again. That’s just the point. The good news is that Jesus, the man without sin, died on a cross to save people like you and me who have a sin problem.

Scrooge: But (scratching his head) … but how could one man’s death such a long time ago have anything to do with my problem?

Bob: Great question. Remember, Jesus is also God himself. He is wholly God and wholly human. As a man, he could die for sin. As God, he could make us right with himself by doing something radical about our sin. We call that the atonement. He atoned for our sin. Look at it this way, through Jesus’s death we have at-one-ment. We are able to be forgiven from our sins and able to be at one with God — rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. And that’s why Christmas matters. That’s not humbug. It’s the truth.

Scrooge: You know, what you’re saying makes sense. What are you doing tomorrow night?

Bob: What do you mean?

Scrooge: Well, the stores are about to close. I’m not going to get that salad spreader tonight. Could you meet me here for coffee tomorrow night. I’d like to talk to you some more about this.

Bob: If you’ll be here, I’ll be here. Same time. Same place.

Scrooge: Thanks. See you tomorrow night. Umm, Merry Christmas!

Bob: Merry Christmas, indeed!
C. Ben Mitchell is consultant on biomedical and life issues for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is probably at the mall right now trying to find his wife, Nancy, one of those new salad spreaders.

    About the Author

  • C. Ben Mitchell

    C. Ben Mitchell is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., as well as research fellow with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    Read All by C. Ben Mitchell ›