Well, have you ever sat in church and thought, "I've read this somewhere else..." ? Every so often I'll read Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus and I always get a funny feeling I've heard this before and not as a reading from the New Testament.
It's a story Jesus told his followers about a rich (unnamed) man and poor Lazarus. The rich man has everything and more and Lazarus has nothing. They both died and the poor man ended up in the bosom of Abraham and the rich man got Hades. From his very warm perch the rich man looks up and sees Paradise and asks for a bit of water but there is no way to give him comfort. So he asks for someone to go and warn his brothers so they don't end up like him. But he is told that his brothers have Moses and the prophets. The rich man had Moses and the prophets too and he was in misery so he asked to have someone from the dead go visit his brothers. The story ends with Abraham telling the rich man, "If they will not listen to Moses or the prophets they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."
The first thing that jumps out at me is - wait a minute, Abraham was rich. The second thing is not all poor people are sweet and loving and good. And, finally, the thing that really gets me going is... this story sounds like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
|From my bookshelf, a Christmas present from Marylyn (1996), tree skirt by me (2010)|
Well, Mr. Dickens didn't send Moses and the prophets, he sent people from Scrooge's past (that's right - a few rose from the dead). You know the story - Scrooge saw kindness, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, joy, goodness towards his fellow man. The ghost from the future brought home Scrooge's fears and a glimpse at the evil we can do to one another when we forget we're all in this together.
You may not have time to read the book this Christmas, but in a pinch the movies will do. My favorite version is titled "Scrooge" (here in the US it is also called "A Christmas Carol") and stars Alastair Sims from 1951.
The George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol" from 1974 is good, too.
And if you're in the mood for the musical version go with 1992's "The Muppet Christmas Carol" starring Kermit the Frog and Michael Caine.
I haven't studied Charles Dickens' life enough to know where the inspiration for A Christmas Carol came from and I am just guessing that he sat in church one day and heard the passage from Luke. Still, here we are reading each others blogs and thinking, how many different ways can we say "Merry Christmas?" and with each happy post we get a glimpse of the same subject with a slightly different take on it.
I hope you get a chance to experience this classic tale in some form and that you will feel there is redemption and hope for everyone and, of course, I hope you believe that mankind is your business.