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Introduction
(written by Genelle Tennant)

Most of us know that Charles Dickens wrote the story that's become a holiday tradition in many parts of the world, and the story is of course, The Christmas Carol, sometimes simply titled, Scrooge. Our family is no exception. Every year during the season we watch every video movie, I believe, that's ever been filmed, including the animated versions and yes, even the Muppet's Christmas Carol. You might say we're even fanatic about it. It's become such a tradition in our household that we couldn't imagine not seeing the timeless story several times. We read the book as well. The story embodies the theme of "scroogism" versus "generosity" and reminds us we always have the poor among us, and we should do what we can to help others. It makes us very very grateful for all the blessings we have! And that's one of the important things we need to consider as we celebrate the birth of our King and Savior!

Mr. Dickens was perhaps the most loved and well know novelist in Victorian England. He was deeply concerned with the plight of poor and ill used children and the lower classes in general. They had not much legal protection in his day and were at the mercy of greedy businessmen and many of the rich. During his lifetime, Dickens campaigned fiercely for laws to protect the rights of the under privileged. He wanted so to make their lives more tolerable. Bitter memories of his own childhood prompted him to write David Copperfield in 1849.

Despite his ill health, Dickens was much in the public eye, with readings from his writings, speaking engagements, and the like. He died in 1870, shortly after announcing that he would retire from public life. He left a legacy that would long be remembered.

Mr Dickens may be most well known, at least in our time, for his endearing story of "Scrooge" in A Christmas Carol, but he himself was of the opinion that his greatest work was his account of the life of Jesus, The Life of Our Lord, which he wrote for his children, and was actually unknown outside of his family circle until long after his death. It very closely adhered to, with a few rearrangements in the order of events, the language and sequence of events of the New Testament account of the birth and life of Jesus. As was his style, Dickens called attention to the compassion of Jesus for the suffering, destitute, downcast, and poor of society, and made harsh criticism of the wealthy and even the representatives of the church of that era who turned a blind eye to the needs of those less fortunate.

To honor Mr. Dickens during this Christmas season I want to share part of his story with you. I admire him for his literary achievements, but all the more because he chose to write what he considered to be the most important work in his life, to pass on to his children - The Gospel, in a form which he felt his children would best understand.

He wrote the story without thought of publication, rather that his family would have a permanent record of their father's thoughts. So, please read it with that in mind rather than with a theological mindset. The hand written manuscript remained in the possession of his family and was finally released for publication in March, 1934.

Here is the first chapter of the story because it pertains to the birth of Jesus until the time that Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Nazareth.

by Genelle Tennant ©

CHAPTER THE FIRST
(written by Charles Dickens)

My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven is, without knowing who He is and what He did.

He was born a long long time ago - nearly two thousand years ago - at a place called Bethlehem. His father and mother lived in a city called Nazareth, but they were forced, by business to travel to Bethlehem. His father's name was Joseph, and his mother's name was Mary. And the town being very full of people, also brought there by business, there was no room for Joseph and Mary at the inn or in any house; so they went into a stable to lodge, and in this stable Jesus Christ was born. There was no cradle or anything of that kind there, so Mary laid her pretty little boy in what is called the Manger, which is the place the horses eat out of. And there He fell asleep.

While he was asleep, some Shepherds who were watching Sheep in the Fields saw an Angel from God, all light and beautiful, come moving over the grass towards Them. At first they were afraid and fell down and hid their faces. But it said, "There is a child born to-day in the City of Bethlehem near here, who will grow up to be so good that God will love as his own son; and he will teach men to love one another, and not to quarrel and hurt one another; and his name will be Jesus Christ, and people will put that name in their prayers, because they will know God loves it, and will know that they should love it too." And then the Angel told the Shepherd to that stable, and look at that little child in the Manger. Which they did; and they kneeled down by it in its sleep, and said "God bless this child!"

Now the great place of all that country was Jerusalem - just as London is the great place in England - and at Jerusalem the King lived, whose name was King Herod. Some wise men came one day, from a country a long way off in the East, and said to the King, "We have seen a Star in the Sky, which teaches us to know that a child is born in Bethlehem who will live to be a man whom all people will love" When King Herod heard this, he was jealous, for he was a wicked man. But he pretended not to be, and said to the wise men, "Whereabouts is this child?" And the wise men said, "We don't know. But we think the Star will shew us; for the Star has been moving on before us, all the way here, and is now standing still in the sky." Then Herod asked them to see if the Star would shew them where the child lived, and ordered them, if they found the child, to come back to him. So they went out, and the Star went on, over their heads a little way before them, until it stopped over the house where the child was. This was very wonderful, but God ordered it to be so.

When the Star stopped, the wise men went in, and saw the child with Mary his Mother. They loved him very much, and gave him some presents. Then they went away. But they did not go back to King Herod; for they thought he was jealous, though he had not said so. So they went away, by night, back into their country. And an Angel came, and told Joseph and Mary to take the child into a Country called Egypt, or Herod would kill him. So they escaped too, in the night - the father, the mother, and the child - and arrived there, safely.

But when this cruel Herod found that the wise men did not come back to him, and that he could not, therefore, find out where this child, Jesus Christ lived, he called his soldiers and captains to him, and told them to go and kill all the children in his dominions that were not more than two years old. The wicked men did so. The mothers of the children ran up and down the streets with them in their arms trying to save them, and hide them in caves and cellars, but it was of no use. The soldiers with their swords killed all the children they could find. This dreadful murder was called the Murder of the Innocents. Because the little children were so innocent.

King Herod hoped that Jesus Christ was one of them. But He was not, as you know, for He had escaped safely into Egypt. And he lived there, with his father and mother, until Bad King Herod died.

Chapter the First written by Charles Dickens

Introduction written by Genelle Tennant .. ©
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