All photo credits to Rachel Winters Photography

Our local community theater recently staged Scrooge! The Musical. As you likely know, the musical is an adaptation of the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As such, not every line is verbatim to the book, but the spirit of the intent is there.

Photo credit: Rachel Winters Photography

I had two thespians that participated in this show, and therefore I ended up watching it 5 times. It was a REALLY great show. Each time I went, I picked up on different nuances of the story. However, during the very first show I caught this line, spoken by Jacob Marley to his business partner. Ebenezer is questioning Marley as to why he has been doomed to roam the earth with his chains in tow. He asks him why and states, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob!” He didn’t understand why Marley would be punished this way when he had been a successful businessman in life. Success in business was the only currency that Scrooge understood, or valued. Marley’s response is really quite amazing – he says “Mankind should be our business, Ebenezer, but how seldom we attend to it.” 

These words, or a slight variation of them, first published in 1843, were as true then as they are now. Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol  to address the issues of social injustice and the lack of care and concern many had for their fellow man. His sentiments are still valid, a message that continues to ring true 174 years later. Dickens’ words, spoken through the character Jacob Marley, are an eloquent expression of our grand purpose on this earth. They suggest that our thoughts and feelings, our motives, our priorities are that which contribute to a life of emptiness or fullness. You become what you behold. Where your focus lies, so will be your life. Scrooge’s focus laid fully on money; the gaining of, and the keeping of money. He even sings: “There is only one God up in heaven on high, and I’ll worship his name till the day that I die! He alone rules the world from a bright golden sky, and our savior’s name is M.O.N.E.Y.!”

Needless to say, Ebenezer Scrooge was an incredibly hurt individual who hardened from his experiences and chose a path that he perceived would keep others from hurting him again. If money becomes your focus, rather than people, you are able to keep emotion at bay. We learn later in the story some of the sources of his pain, and it allows us a glimpse into what makes him tick. We say it often here; love God, love people. I feel that Jacob Marley’s message to his old friend and business partner was exactly that. Mankind should be our business, but how seldom we attend to it. Marley had learned, albeit too late, what the consequences of his choices were. What a gift it was that he wanted to spare his miserable business partner from the same fate. That facet of this story is one that is true for all of us. When we know better, we do better. Marley wasn’t able to do better for himself in that life, but he wanted better for Scrooge. Who in your life needs to be loved and encouraged? There are probably more opportunities in your immediate circles than you think.

Ultimately, Scrooge’s is a story of redemption. A story that mirrors God’s pursuit of us. He may let us go our own way, after all, he did give us free will. However, he will continue to pursue and try to get a hold of us at every chance. To help us realize our need to change direction. Perhaps, much like Ebenezer, we don’t get the hint the first time. After Marley leaves, Scrooge is left cursing him and bellowing that it isn’t his fault that he lived and Marley died. After the ghost of Christmas past leaves him, while he has softened a little, he still insists it’s not his fault that others have passed on, while he’s left on the Earth. After all, what is he supposed to do about other’s problems? As he so blatantly points out earlier in the story, if people would rather die than go to the workhouses, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Obviously, he has little concern for the welfare of others.

Scrooge, having awoke from his dream, or was it? He’s eagerly placing an order for toys from the local merchant, while explaining that “I like life!” Photo credit: Rachel Winters Photography

The story of Scrooge is not just about a miserly man who allowed his wounds to dictate his life’s path, but one of hope and redemption. A story that says at any point we can turn our lives a different direction and choose to “like life.” There is a saying that life is what you make it. I’d like to take that a step further and say that life is what you allow God to make it. It’s not always comfortable, it’s rarely easy. However, when you are fulfilling your purpose, being who you were created to be, loving God and loving people? It’s a beautiful thing.

As Ebenezer Scrooge learned, until we have taken our last breath we are always able to begin again. Merry Christmas friends.

 

I’ll begin again
I will build my life
I will live to know
I fulfilled my life
I’ll begin today
Throw away the past
And the future I build
Will be something that will last
I will take the time
That I have left to live
And I’ll give it all
That I have left to give
I will live my days
For my fellow men
And I’ll live in praise
Of that moment when
I was able to begin again

I’ll begin again
I will change my fate
I will show the world
That it is not too late
I will never stop
While I still have time
‘Till I stand at the top
Of the mountain I must climb
I will start anew
I will make amends
And I will make quite certain
That the story ends
On a note of hope
On a strong amen
And I’ll thank the world
And remember when
I was able to begin again
I’ll begin again!

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/s/scroogelyrics/illbeginagainlyrics.html