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He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
(John 1:11)
Who would challenge the contention that Charles Dickens was one of the most influential novelists of the 19th century, perhaps of all times? He wrote five Christmas stories, but none is better known or loved than his little book A Christmas Carol, starring none other than old Ebenezer Scrooge and little Tiny Tim--whom we can all identify with, especially if you can ever remember not getting anything for Christmas.

Dickens was a little guy with a Type A personality, full of energy and drive.

He was born in Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England, in 1812, and when he was about two years of age, his family moved to London, then a large, dark and dirty city. His father, John, was a poor clerk who was thrown into debtor's prison when he couldn't repay a loan. But even when he was free, he could never adequately provide for his family.

At the age of 12, Charles Dickens was forced to work in a London factory, pasting labels on bottles of shoeblack. It was a bad experience for the youthful Dickens, one that darkly impressed him, and one he never could speak freely about. Though he attended school off and on until he was fourteen, it was the world of poverty and hunger, the world that exploited children, alcoholism, and drudgery which gave him his real education.

Dickens acquired a love to read, and the lad whose name was destined to become a household word in the English-speaking world devoured and read everything he could borrow. But his characters were based on real-life people he met and knew in the harsh world of the 1820s and 30s. The World Book Encyclopedia says of Dickens, "He came to know the streets and alleys of London better, perhaps, than any other person of his time. His walks sometimes extended 20 or 30 miles."

In his mid 20s he became famous for his Pickwick Papers but it was his A Christmas Carol that touches our hearts at the Christmas season. In this familiar story about Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge (remember, "Bah, humbug!”), Marley, and ghosts from the past, present, and future, Dickens brings together the elements of greed, depression, poverty, and hope. Many think that in this book Dickens was expressing not only his personal faith but was describing something of the journey that took him from poverty to riches. "God bless us, every one!" cries Tiny Tim, and only descendents of the old Ebenezer Scrooge would rebut that.

One thing that so strikes me about Dickens is that he describes the impact of Christ's coming into the real world in which we live—the dirt and filth, the exploitation, the corruption, which stands out in sore relief to the tenderness of a loving home, the joyful expectancy of a crippled boy, and the hope that Christmas is real after all.

It was into the real world—the world which hasn't really changed—that God sent His Son to Bethlehem, a measurable distance from London as well as from where you are right now.

The joy of Christmas Present touches our lives where we are, where our dreams are unfulfilled, and our hopes are still unrealized. It's time to stop what you are doing and let your heart cry out, "God bless us, every one," a prayer which breaks through the gloom.

Charles Dickens’ life was never very pleasant. The woman he really loved died, and marrying her sister who became the mother of his 10 children never brought happiness. But today in a chorus around the world, we can forget the unrealized dreams and hope and cry out, "God bless us, every one," a prayer and a declaration of our love and care.

Resource reading: John 1:1-14.

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Author Biography

Harold J. Sala
Web site: Guidelines International Ministries
Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963 and has served at its helm since its inception. Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

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