Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
I love listening to A Christmas Carol this time of year. I try to listen to it on Audible at least twice , if not more. If you haven’t read it or listened to it, so it now! It’s a treasure trove of holiday cheer.
Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa’s on his way
He’s filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and for me
It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
May your New Year dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too.
– The Christmas Waltz By Jules Stine and Sammy Cahn
Today, I want to share a new tradition I started last year. For the whole month of December I listen to different versions of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on Audible. Not only is Dickens easier in audio versions, but it puts you in a wonderful mood for Christmas. Most versions are 3-5 hours long, with the Patrick Stewart or Tim Curry versions being my favorite.
This is perfect for commutes, especially if you work retail and your having a hard time staying in the mood of the season, or just as you fold laundry and dust and cook. It’s also perfect to share with the family around a fire and a bowl of popcorn.
Dickens masterful work of the ‘meaning of Christmas’ is rich, wholesome, and yet very down to earth, filled with human nature. His descriptions of the market place on Christmas, Mr. Fezziwig, and the Bob Cratchit’s family are a wonderful delight. I hope in a few more years to be able to directly quote this book after listening to it so many times, though I’ll probably do it in Patrick Stewart’s voice.
Merry Christmas and “God bless us, every one!”
“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and wome…n 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. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
And God bless us, everyone!
“There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried Scrooge, starting off again, and frisking round the fireplace. “There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered. There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present, sat. There’s the window where I saw the wandering Spirits. It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened. Ha ha ha!”
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.
“I don’t know what day of the month it is,” said Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell! Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!” – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I love the description of his laugh in this scene!
“There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker’s. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.” – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This made me smile since we didn’t have much growing up, but were often happy, grateful, and pleased with one another. 🙂
As you all know, I’ve been struggling with my health this year. I’ve been making slow but steady progress for the last few months, until about a two weeks ago when I regressed terribly. Back to the doctor! Guess what? I’m anemic. In fact, I have a severe case of anemia. Now, thankfully this is something easily fixed with a diet change, some supplements, and patience. More meat for me!
Within less than a day, I was feeling much better.
Here’s the interesting part: prior to the diagnosis, I not only felt drained physically, I also had no stress threshold of any kind. I had zero emotional control. Every little thing became a point of high anxiety for me. Mole hills became mountains. I cried over things I normally am able to shrug off. I explained all this to my doctor and she said that was totally normal for an anemic person.
Iron. Iron, or the lack there of, affected my emotions.
We live in a day and age when we encourage everyone to follow their heart except my heart was way off point because I didn’t have enough iron in my blood. My emotions are once again proven to be untrustworthy because they can be affected by such a small thing, like diet. My Mom likes to quote Dickens from The Christmas Carol:
“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”
All this to say, guard your heart. Your emotions are not the most trustworthy way to divine truth. They can be manipulated by something as straightforward as a low iron intake.
After learning all this and feeling better after some meat, I realized yet again how thankful I am for the doctrine of Divine Impassibility. My emotions get yanked around. God is without emotions. He loves me now as he has always loved me and will always love me and nothing great or small can change that. God can’t suffer from a low iron count that makes him cry over the smallest thing or seize up in terror at some perceived fear. God is not like me and for that I am truly thankful because I can trust him. His love will not change. He will not suddenly fear for me. He holds me safely in his might. He will never lose me, or be annoyed by me. He is unchanging. His love will never change. I am the creature. My emotions affect things like my love. They misguide me. I can’t trust them. But, I can trust an impassible God. My God.
God without Passions by Samuel Renihan.
This book was probably one of the most theologically rich books, or deep books that I have ever read. I tend to go for books which are heavy on life application as opposed to books that are rich in doctrine. This is a trait that I’m working on changing thanks to my husband’s teaching on Systematic Theology and Amy Byrd’s book Housewife Theologian. I’m slowly learning that Systematic Theology and doctrine are completely applicable to life, and rich in head and heart knowledge.
It took me a while to get through this book. I took it in small chunks. Some of it was hard to read and follow based on the English language at the time of the writer. Some of it was just really deep requiring a logical following of the argument to gain the point.
All in all, it was a very encouraging read and mostly for this point: reading the work of other Christian brothers over the last several hundred years gives you a sense of connection. We are not an isolated bubble in history. No. We stand united with many many other dear saints who have gone before us and have held to the traditions as dearly as we do and should. We are not alone in this river of time. We are joined in one great battle against the darkness with our fellow saints. You want proof? Here are men going back and back writing about the same issues we so recently dealt with in our association and still continue to wrestle with. We are not alone in this. Our older brothers also thought through and examined this doctrine. Our older brothers stood their ground and upheld the doctrine of Divine Impassibility and we may count ourselves in their number now. God is good.
My favorite quote from the book was from John Tillotson and his book The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God:
“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness, we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”
God’s gracious mercy to us to come to us the creature and make himself known to us, doesn’t mean we can turn around and subject him to our creaturely way of looking at the world.
My other favorite quote was by Benedict Pictet and his book Christian Theology:
“. . . thus he did at the same time decree to create men, and to destroy them by a deluge some ages after.”
God’s repentance at the flood wasn’t a changing of his character but a stooping down to us to help us understand. God decreed the flood from the beginning. He doesn’t change, but he does gently stoop down to his children.
I found this quote interesting as a storyteller because we plan the suffering, change, and growth of our characters without, on a human level, changing ourselves. Everything may change in the character’s life, including death, and I’m the same me. I had a character who was the worst of reprobates, a betrayer of friends, who was forgiven and redeemed. He changed, not me. I planned his salvation from the beginning. (Obviously, this analogy breaks down because I change and I change my mind, and sometimes out of the blue, I’ll think of something for my story, but it still helps me to grasp the idea of Impassibility.)
The more I contemplate Divine Impassibility the more beautiful it becomes. One, I’m secure in a God who doesn’t change and can’t be change. Two, I have Christ. Oh, the beauty of God who became man with all that we are, without sin, and died for me. Christ suffered. Christ felt. Christ died. He did all that we long to have in a Savior. Why try to change the very nature of God, making him passible, when we have Christ? What more do we need? We have divine God, who is impassible, and Christ, who in his human nature, is passible.
Christ is our mediator. He bridged the gap between God and Man, and in him, in the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility I find heart. I find great love beyond understanding. I find all the emotion I could ever want because God became Man and dwelt amongst us.
If you wish to have a better, historical sense of Divine Impassibility I suggest God without Passions. It may be weighty, but it is good and worth the work.
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”- Charles Dickens, The Christmas Carol
(Laughter and Good Humor are far more important than wealth and possessions! May we value them as such!)