‘It’s humbug still!’ said Scrooge. ‘I won’t believe it.’ His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door…. ‘I know him! Marley’s Ghost!’
Scrooge encounters the spirit of his long-dead business partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge initially humbugs the supernatural…
I’m musing on ‘Revelation’ in my Bible – heaven, thrones, trumpets, creatures, rainbows… We continue encounter Christmas angels and fairies, God and Santa Claus; with Scrooge we navigate our way through the literally true, man-made fantasy and stories containing deep truth.
Marley’s ghost drags a heavy, clanking chain… ‘…made of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel.’
‘I wear the chain I forged in life…I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free-will and of my own free-will I wore it.’
Some people’s heavy chains are clearly visible to all; they continue to carry burdens from their past. Some are caused by bad choices; others come by the random nature of life.
Scrooge sees Marley’s chains; soon he realises he’s carrying his own. It’s easy to see the chains of others; perhaps I need a Marley to reveal my chains of prejudice, habits, burdens that I like to imagine are invisible…
The Christmas message is of a baby who comes to Scrooges, bringing freedom to captives, light to darkness, joy to humbugs;…it’s of burdens both removed and shared.
‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!’
Marley is tormented in death by things he neglected to value in life – people’s welfare.
National pictures of pandemic, healthcare systems, trade deals and economics; locally we see families, communities, pubs, clubs, churches.
Marley’s message… Scrooge’s lesson… the central business is people.