Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Muppet Christmas Carol - Fun with a Message

I have to admit up front that I am a big fan of the Muppets. I used to watch The Muppet Show and own several seasons of the show on DVD, The Muppet Movie is one of my favorite films and this is one of my top Christmas movies. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a pretty standard Dickens Christmas Carol interpretation with one interesting twist. Gonzo plays the role of Charles Dickens who narrates and provides comic relief in some of the more sinister parts of the story. Michael Caine portrays Ebeneezer Scrooge adequately enough and Kermit the Frog is the perfect foil as Bob Cratchit. As this is easily one of the most well-known Christmas stories I don't feel a need to give a synopsis. There is little here that deviates from the story that we all know and love. What is different is how much fun this version of the classic turns out to be. There are numerous asides, in-jokes and comedic liberties taken by the Muppet characters while the human characters play straight man every time. Without question, this is one of the best family Christmas movies out there. It comes highly recommended by this rev.

But The Muppet Christmas Carol offers more than just wholesome family fun. There is a message to be found in this picture as well, in fact, several messages. The first message comes across in one of the opening songs. We meet Scrooge walking through the streets as the numerous Muppet characters sing about how bad a person he is. In the song it is implied that he is this miserable because of his self-imposed isolation. Of course we learn later on that his isolation was not always self-imposed. What I find interesting is that if lonliness creates misery then the converse must also be true; presence and fellowship creates joy. As a pastor I find this to be especially true. Being present for people in their time of need brings joy to the person I visit and to me as well. I also find that church people are never happier than when they are in the company of fellow minded folks. Worship time is always a time of joy. And joy always seems to be found where people gather together.

A second message became apparent during another song. When Scrooge is haunted by his dead partners, Jacob and Bob Marley (told you there were inside jokes), they sing to Scrooge about the chains he'll wear in the afterlife. One of the lines in the song says that Scrooge must "change to lose his chains." This might be one of the most compact salvation statements ever put on screen. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus put it this way, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." To repent literally means to turn around. Scrooge is told to turn around from the way he is going in order that he not have to wear the chains he is forging in this life in his afterlife. We are all called by Jesus to change our ways and choose His ways. The Muppets might put it a little differently, but it's a message of salvation none the less.

One last message came out, and this one in a song as well. When Scrooge is traveling with the ghost of Christmas present, the spirit sings a song about the feelings we all experience at Christmas. One of the lines in the chorus says, "Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas." What a wondeful way to express the true meaning of Christmas. This blessed season really is about love more than anything else. It's about the love of families gathered together over a festive meal. It's about the love of friends for one another. It's about the agape love of anyone who gives of themselves to others. But most especially, Christmas is about the love of God for humanity represented in the gift of a Savior in the form of a little child. So indeed, wherever you find love it certainly does feel like Christmas.

So take a little time this Christmas season and enjoy The Muppet Christmas Carol with your family. Share the love. Merry Christmas.

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