A WEAPON CALLED CHRISTMAS

The leading newspaper in the nation has not mentioned Christmas in 10 years. Christmas is attacked by both God haters and religionists. It has fallen into great disfavor—accused of everything from paganism to materialism. It is socially unacceptable to celebrate Christmas.  It is 1843 England. Also known as the hungry 40’s.
A young and gifted writer is deeply restless and can’t sleep. He asks an assistant to meet him in the middle of the night, “take me to see the worst of London. Do not spare me anything.”
What he saw horrified him and left a mark in his soul that would haunt his novels for the rest of his life. Children, living like stray dogs scavenged through garbage in sub-zero temperatures.
Charles Dickens had to do something. So, he mustered his considerable weapon: he marshalled the English language and sent it into war against child abuse. Vast corruption must be exposed! This nation-destroying curse must be lifted!
He set ink to paper with the force of a volcanic eruption and the skillful cuts of a surgeon. The result was a pamphlet entitled An Appeal on Behalf of the Poor Man’s Child. Then something happened:
He never released the pamphlet. Historians are divided about why. Usually, it does not fall upon facts but on anti-Christian bias. Here is what really happened: He heard the voice of God. “If you release this pamphlet it will bring good for a season, but if you write the story, I am about to give you, it will bring good for all time.”
It would be a story where the main character is the most uncompelling, and unsympathetic character to any audience: an old man—a wealthy miser! Even his name is off-putting: Ebeneezer Scrooge.
With only weeks left before Christmas how could he finish it and get it published? Astonishingly it was published on December 19, 1843. Not only that, it was made into a script and opened in 2 theaters that Christmas day.
This story is not only credited with saving Christmas, it has been synonymous with Christmas ever since.  Outside the Bible, no written word about Christmas has been more influential and widespread in its power to evoke love for children and the poor.
Christmas has inspired the best music. Musical artist regardless of their fame are compelled to release a Christmas album. It has a power that no one can explain or predict. Opposing armies have stopped combat, met on neutral ground in the middle of a war to celebrate Christmas.
Here is Nephew Fred from A Christmas Carol: “I have always thought of Christmastime… as a good time: a kind forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
The supernatural power of Christmas is also seen in the creation of Silent Night. It was written because the organ broke and a song for a guitar was necessary.  Christmas again showed its power with Handel’s Messiah. Handel wrote it in 24 days. When he finished the Hallelujah Chorus, he said it was as if the roof came off his room and he saw the great God Himself.
Christmas is a weapon! It brings proof of the Deity of Christ by its inexplicable effect on the world. Even when it offends it is doing God’s work. Even Scrooge screamed, “then let me leave it alone!” But Christmas won’t let us leave it alone.
But the message about Scrooge transcends even Christmas. It is about God’s power to create a weapon to combat evil through anointed artforms.
It is because of Scrooge, that I find much of today’s formulaic Christian music unimaginative, predictable, and even snowflake like. Bono from U-2 called it “dishonest.” How dare I make such a criticism? Because we didn’t use to scare so easily. We wrote songs of sacrifice and commitment; towering themes filled majestic hymns.
Somewhere in the mid to late 20th Century the church developed an insecurity complex and began to “do things almost as good as the world does.” Not just in music, but in all art forms. We even have green rooms which is a nod to Hollywood.
A great exception is Black Gospel Music. It was so original the world had to copy it for Motown and R and B. Black Gospel was so powerful the world kept trying to steal talent out of the church. Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and many others began in church.
The spark of divine creativity does not rest on those who surmise what might sell or what won’t offend. It comes on those who would sacrifice all to obey God.
However, there is another reason creativity is in short supply: We don’t recognize the multiple opportunities of service outside the pulpit. Not everyone is a preacher—nor should they be! The gifts of God fit in business, art, media, healthcare, education and yes, politics.
Because God came upon a famous novelist like Charles Dickens, the devil was blindsided. What if you are supposed to create something no one has seen before?
Finally, the idea that we need to tone anything down to win souls is hogwash. Johnny Cash comes to mind. It is truly amazing the influence he carried. Bob Dylan, Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones revered him. Yet, he never muted his faith or his witness. God gave him a sound the world couldn’t resist.
A heart filled with love for God and hatred for evil, who is willing to be completely open to do something new is our greatest need today. God is searching to drop original miracles on someone like you.

2016 Murillo Christmas Village Video

 

I don’t golf. I don’t collect cars.  So, I learned how to make a village that told the story of Scrooge.  I hope you enjoy my little village video and the pictures.

In 1843, Dickens was the most famous writer in England.  Early that year, he made a strange request.  “Show me the most horrible parts of London.”  He set out with a guide late one night.  He thought he had steeled himself for what he might see. But nothing could have prepared him for the unbridled horror of seeing abandoned children living like animals in sub zero weather.

lo-rez-village-shot

 

Scarred for life, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow . . . on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”   He penned a tract entitled An appeal on behalf of the poor man’s child.

When and how the miracle happened is a matter of debate.  Many say that God gave Dickens a special message.  God told him his pamphlet would only have a limited impact but an original story would have endless impact.

Thus he created the sledge—hammer:  A Christmas Carol.

lo-rez-harbor

The following are excerpts for Charles Dickens info.com

It only took Dickens about six weeks to write A Christmas Carol.  Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit helped speed up the process.  When Dickens wrote he “saw” his characters much like the way that young Ebenezer Scrooge saw the characters from the books he had read.  As Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol he said that the Cratchits were “ever tugging at his coat sleeve, as if impatient for him to get back to his desk and continue “the story of their lives”.

“Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”   This line appears toward the beginning of the novel.  Dickens included this because of a dream.  He had dreamt that one of his good friends was pronounced to be “as dead Sir . . . as a door-nail”.

The Cratchit family is based on Dickens’ childhood home life. He lived in poor circumstances in a “two up two down” four roomed house which he shared with his parents and five siblings. Like Peter Cratchit, young Charles, the eldest boy, was often sent to pawn the family’s goods when money was tight. Like many poor families, the Cratchits had nothing in which to roast meat. They relied on the ovens of their local baker which were available on Sundays and Christmas when the bakery was closed.

lo-rez-scrooge-grave

 

A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843.  Initially six thousand copies of the book were printed.  More copies were ordered after the first printing was sold in only five days.

Why does the story of Scrooge impact me so deeply?  First, it gives me—as well as most who have heard the story—a deep need to help the poor.

 

However, it hits me just as hard in another way.  It shows the power of creativity with a cause.  It shows us that we can be original without softening the blow of truth.  It shows us that God can deliver a sledge hammer to a corrupt culture in ways we never imagined.

lo-rez-fire

 

Scrooge rebukes cowardly Christian celebrities who can’t declare the whole counsel God and think it they are being creative when they hide truth.

Scrooge is also a spanking to the lazy preachers who refuse to press in and find a fresher way to deliver timeless truth.  We are not supposed to give out the truth like a cold plate of stale food.

Scrooge reminds us that God stands ready to give us power to pierce a culture with new weapons that are both fresh and effective.

 

lo-rez-double-waterfall

 

 

The Murillo Family Dickens Village built by Mario Murillo and filmed by Michael Murillo

It takes a special woman to permit her entry way to become a construction zone for a Christmas decoration.  I want to thank my amazing wife for her patience.  The entire story of Scrooge is represented in the village you will see in the video. I hope you enjoy coming into our home and being a part of how we celebrate Christmas.   Now check out the video

 

I guess you can tell that I love the story of Scrooge in a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I cannot count the number of times I have read it.

This year Scrooge takes on an eerie significance for many reasons.

First of all, were you aware that at the time that Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol there was a war on Christmas?  In fact, when Scrooge ranted to his nephew Fred, “ If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart! “,  Dickens was parodying the sentiments of not a few people of that time.

Christmas had fallen into disfavor, even among the Victorians and many just stopped celebrating the Birth of Jesus.  England, like America wondered if her “Exceptionalism” was over.  Many wondered if the promise of Christianity had expired.   Government programs were bitterly failing the poor in the hungry 1840’s.

In the midst of all of this, Charles Dickens had a supernatural encounter.  It happened after Dickens asked to see the worst part of London.  He was horrified to find feral children.  Literally, they were wild animals and roamed the streets with no human to look after them in the bitter cold.  Dickens vowed to use his considerable popularity as a writer to save these children.

He wrote a scathing tract entitled AN APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE POOR MAN’S CHILD.  Just before he published it God woke him from sleep with a message.  “If you write the story it will affect but one generation, but if you write the story that I will give you it will touch endless generations.”   With that, he wrote, or rather wrote down the story that we all know as A CHRISTMAS CAROL: The story of Ebenezer Scrooge.

If you had to write a story that was guaranteed to fail in such a cynical age you would make it about an old miser.  There is no sympathy or attraction to such a character and yet, for reasons we can now see, it caught fire immediately.

This year the tale of this miser has yet more significance.  Christmas reminds us that somewhere out there in the midst of the darkness of evil… God is at work.  He is not surprised that Iran wants to vaporize Israel.  He is not confused by vain wrangling on North Korea.  Russia, China, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and every other boiling nation have no surprise and pose no threat to our God.

Somewhere out there, there are people willing, as Dickens was, to lay celebrity on the line, obey the voice in the night for the greater good.  In remote places there are people you and I have never heard of ready to be the next miracle to a generation.

The Best Christmas Quotes in the World.

christmas insert

 

The asteroid did not hit Washington D.C. as the Mayans promised.   So, as a consolation and a break from all of the insanity I  humbly and confidently present to you the best Christmas quotes in the world.  And I dare you to disagree!  (Or to add more of your own!)

  Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.  ~Richard Lamm

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.  ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby.

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank.  People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’  or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!’  ~Dave Barry, “Christmas Shopping:  A Survivor’s Guide”

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.  ~Carol Nelson

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.  ~W.J. Cameron

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.  ~W.J. Cameron

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.  ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Isn’t it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for – I don’t know what exactly, but it’s something that you don’t mind so much not having at other times.  ~Kate L. Bosher

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.  ~Francis C. Farley

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.  ~Carrie Latet

G. K. Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? – G. K. Chesterton

 I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. – Shirley Temple

The only blind person at Christmas time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.- Helen Keller

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’. Bing Crosby

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.- Dave Barry

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”  ― Ronald Reagan

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ― Sigrid Undset

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ― Andy Rooney

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” ― Jay Leno

“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol