The Redemption of Scrooge Leader Guide

The Redemption of Scrooge Leader Guide

by Matt Rawle

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The Redemption of Scrooge Leader Guide by Matt Rawle

Is redemption possible for Ebenezer Scrooge? Pastor and author Matt Rawle believes so as he discovers the teachings of Jesus in the words of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Rawle dives deep into the dark, sad, greedy world of Scrooge and discovers a man in dire need of a second chance. Along with Scrooge, we meet the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and in the process learn about living with and for others in a world blessed by Jesus. Rediscover and reinvigorate your Christian faith this Advent and Christmas season and look at this familiar classic through the lens of faith.

The Leader Guide contains everything needed to guide a group through the 4-week study for Advent, making use of the book and videos. Guide includes session plans and discussion questions, as well as multiple format options.

Sessions include:

  1. Bah! Humbug!
  2. The Remembrance of Christmas Past
  3. The Life of Christmas Present
  4. The Hope of Christmas Future

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501823091
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Series: Pop in Culture Series
Edition description: Leaders Gu
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Matt Rawle is Lead Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. Matt is an international speaker who loves to tell an old story in a new way, especially at the intersection of pop culture and the church. He is the author of a new series of books titled The Pop in Culture Series. The series includes The Faith of a Mockingbird, Hollywood Jesus, The Salvation of Doctor Who and The Redemption of Scrooge.

Read an Excerpt

The Redemption of Scrooge Leader Guide

By Matt Rawle

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5018-2309-1


Session 1

Bah! Humbug!

Planning the Session

Session Goals

Through this session's discussion and activities, participants will be encouraged to:

• Familiarize themselves with A Christmas Carol.

• Examine how Advent is a season in which past, present, and future come together. (During this season we recall the events leading up to Jesus' birth two thousand years ago; we anticipate the ways in which Christ enters our lives today; and we look forward to Christ's promised return.)

• Explore the tension and relationship between God's grace and personal accountability.

• Look at the role that hope plays during the Advent season — particularly the hope that we have amid darkness and despair.

• Reflect on the witness of our spiritual ancestors.


• Read Chapter 1, "Bah! Humbug!" in Matt Rawle's The Redemption of Scrooge.

• Read through this Leader Guide session in its entirety to familiarize yourself with the material being covered.

• Read and reflect on the following Scriptures:

* Matthew 1:1-17

* Matthew 20:1-16

* Mark 1:1-13

* Luke 1:1-38

* Luke 1:46-55

* John 1:1-18

* Galatians 6:7

* Colossians 2:13-14

• You will want to have your DVD player or computer ready to watch the video segment. You might also want to have a markerboard or large sheet of paper available for recording group members' ideas.

• Have a Bible, paper for taking notes, and a pen or pencil available for every participant.

• If you will be doing the activity, "Merry Gentlemen and Gentlewomen," under "Additional Options for Study and Discussion," try to have a few hymnals or songbooks available that contain the hymn "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen."

Getting Started

Opening Activity and Prayer (5 minutes)

Begin by gauging your group's familiarity with Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol.

• First, ask members of the group who've read the novel, A Christmas Carol, to stand (or raise their hands).

• While the novel readers remain standing, ask those who have seen a film or stage version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol to stand.

• Next, ask those who have seen a popular Hollywood take on the story, such as Scrooged or A Muppet Christmas Carol, to stand.

• Then, ask those to stand who — despite not having read the book or seen a movie adaptation — understand that there exists a story called A Christmas Carol about an old miser who has some run-ins with ghosts.

• Finally, ask those to stand who are familiar with the name "Scrooge" and associate that name with someone who is grumpy and cynical about Christmas.

If there are members of your group who have very limited knowledge of the story, give a brief summary (or read "A Quick Refresher," found at the beginning of The Redemption of Scrooge). Then discuss:

• How have you seen the name or image of Scrooge used in popular culture and advertising?

• Why do you think A Christmas Carol and the story of Ebenezer Scrooge resonates so much with our culture? Why do so many people relate to this story?

God of our past, present, and future, bless our time together over the next few weeks. Guide us as we draw inspiration from a great work of literature during this time of preparation when we anticipate all the ways you have, do, and will enter our world. May we benefit from the wisdom of your people and your word. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Learning Together

Watch DVD Segment (10 minutes)

Study and Discussion of Book and DVD (35–40 minutes)

The Advent Time Warp

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts — the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. This idea of three ghosts is appropriate for the Christian season of Advent, which also brings together the past, present, and future.

Divide a markerboard or large sheet of paper into three columns, labeled "Past," "Present," and "Future."

Ask participants to brainstorm ways that Advent connects us with the past. List their ideas in the "Past" column on the markerboard or paper. Examples would include:

• During Advent, we remember the events leading up to Jesus' birth two millennia ago.

• We also look back further, to the ways in which God's people anticipated the coming of a Messiah.

• Advent also brings to mind the more recent past, such as memories from one's childhood or memories of loved ones who have died or moved away.

Then have participants brainstorm ways that Advent connects us to the present. List these ideas in the "Present" column. Examples would include:

• We actively participate in Advent through the ways we worship, the music we listen to, and the ways we decorate our homes and churches.

• Advent is an occasion to turn our hearts and minds toward Christ amid the busyness of Christmas shopping, work, exams (for those who are students or who have children who are), and other responsibilities.

Finally, ask participants to brainstorm ways that Advent connects us to the future. List these ideas in the "Future" column. Examples would include:

• Advent is a season of preparation. Most immediately, we prepare for our Christmas celebration.

• Advent looks ahead to Christ's return.

• During the Advent season, we often create memories that we will keep with us for many years.

Once you have a good list in all three columns, explain that Advent is a season that brings together the past, present, and future. Be sure to emphasize the following:

• Advent is the season when we remember the events leading up to Jesus' birth and prepare to celebrate Christmas.

• Advent is a season when we are especially mindful of how Jesus is present in our world today and when we prepare to encounter Jesus in our lives.

• Advent is the season when we look ahead to Jesus' promised return.

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

As Rawle writes, Advent helps us remember that, "Jesus came to save us from counting our past as our only reality. ... Advent is like living in the wilderness between what was and what will be. Living into this tension, remembering God's promises, and depending on faith become spiritual disciplines that keep us from becoming Scrooges ourselves. Even though the Promised Land may seem far off, we hold tightly to the promises of our God, for 'he who promised is faithful' (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)" (The Redemption of Scrooge, pages 23-24).

Just Deserts

Read aloud Galatians 6:7 — if possible from a variety of translations. Ask:

• What do you think this verse means by, "A person will harvest what they plant" (CEB) or "You reap whatever you sow." (NRSV)?

• How might this verse be used to justify someone's misfortune (or taking delight in someone's misfortune)?

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

Ebenezer Scrooge takes a view of life that corresponds with this verse. Rawle says in the DVD segment that Scrooge lives according to Galatians 6:7 taken to the extreme. Because Scrooge feels as though every person is deserving of his or her circumstances (whether for good or for bad), he has little sympathy for those who struggle.

For discussion:

• How does this idea — that people reap what they sow — affect your attitudes toward other people?

• How might this verse alone be insufficient for understanding God's grace and judgment?

In order to get a broader view of God's grace and judgment, read aloud Colossians 2:13-14. Ask:

• What do these verses tell us about how God responds to the mistakes we make?

• How do these verses contradict or give new meaning to the idea that people get what they deserve?

For even more perspective, read Matthew 20:1-16. Discuss:

• How does this Scripture add to the discussion?

• What does Rawle say about this parable in the DVD segment?

• Would you say that the workers in this Scripture got what they deserved? Why, or why not?

• How does God's understanding of what we deserve differ from our understanding? What does this parable tell us about God's grace?

• Rawle, in the DVD segment, says that God's economy doesn't follow the same rules as the world. What does this parable tell us about God's economy? How do the "rules" in this parable differ from the economic rules of the culture in which we live?

• Considering all of these Scriptures together, how should we understand Galatians 6:7?

Magnify the Lord

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

When Jesus' mother, Mary, learned that she would be giving birth to the Messiah, she broke into song.

• Read aloud Mary's song from Luke 1:46-55. This song is traditionally known as the Magnificat. Magnificat is the Latin translation of the song's opening phrase, "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46 NRSV). Ask:

* What does Mary's song tell us about God and God's priorities?

* How does Mary's view of the world contrast with Ebenezer Scrooge's?

Divide participants into groups of three or four. Ask each group to write its own version of Mary's Magnificat using language and examples better suited to a current-day audience. If groups are musically inclined, encourage them to put their songs to a tune.

After all the groups have had time to work, invite each group to present its song. Then ask:

• Which Advent and Christmas songs have themes similar to Mary's song?

• How can the church better honor the themes and ideas in Mary's song during the Advent season?

• How are you "highly favored"? In what ways has God "done great things" for you (Luke 1:48-49)?

• How can you use your blessings to participate in God's work of lifting "up the lowly" (Luke 1:52)?

Wrapping Up

Closing Activity: Your Marley's Ghost (5 minutes)

Read aloud Hebrews 12:1-2. Ask:

• To whom do you think the author is referring with the phrase, "great cloud of witnesses"?

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

Prior to these verses, the Book of Hebrews had run through a list of heroes of the faith, including several great Israelite prophets and leaders.

The first ghost to visit Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol was the ghost of Scrooge's old partner, Jacob Marley. Like Scrooge, Marley had been a miser. Only after his death had Marley come to terms with errors he'd made while he was alive. Though most of us would prefer not to be visited by ghosts, we all know people who have gone before us who could impart valuable advice to us.

• Challenge members of the group to think of one person who is no longer living who might be able to offer them valuable wisdom and guidance. They need not think of someone who, like Marley, regrets how he or she lived — someone whose wisdom comes from realizing his or her mistakes. They also need not select someone with whom they worked closely.

• Once participants have selected a person, have them write about what wisdom that person might impart to them. Give everyone a few minutes to work, then, if your group is large, have participants pair off or form groups of three. Invite the groups to talk about who they selected and the advice they'd expect to receive.

Come back together and discuss:

• What is one thing you learned about God, Scripture, or the church during this session?

• What is one thing you learned from your fellow participants that you will take with you this Advent season?

Closing Prayer

God of Advent and Christmas, thank you for entering our world as a child many years ago; thank you for entering our lives today; and thank you for the hope of your promised return. As we travel through this Advent season, let us be mindful of your presence and your will. Empower us to bring the hope of Christ to all of your people. We pray all these things in the name of Christ, who is past, present, and future. Amen.

Additional Options for Study and Discussion

Marley Was Dead (15-20 minutes)

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

A Christmas Carol begins ominously with, "Marley was dead." In The Redemption of Scrooge, Rawle writes, "Dickens wants us to know this important fact ... right from the very beginning. This statement sets the tone for the story and foreshadows what's to come" (page 21). Ask:

• If you had no familiarity with A Christmas Carol and read that opening line, what might you expect from the story?

Often an opening line, paragraph, or scene sets the tone for the rest of a story. With this in mind, take a look at how each of the four Gospels begins.

• Depending on your available time and the number of people in your group, go over the openings of the Gospels as a group, or divide participants into four teams and assign each team one of the following Gospel passages:

* Matthew 1:1-17

* Mark 1:1-13

* Luke 1:1-38

* John 1:1-18

• For each of the four Gospel openings, discuss:

* Based on these verses alone, what tone, do you think, is the author setting for this Gospel?

* Again, based on these verses alone, what would you expect this Gospel to say about Jesus?

* What did you learn about the beginnings of the four Gospels that you didn't know prior to this activity?

* How does the tone set by the opening of each of the Gospels compare to the tone set by the opening of A Christmas Carol?

* How is the tone of a story essential to conveying the truths or lessons it wants to impart?

Advent or Christmas? (10-15 minutes)

Read aloud or summarize for the group:

Dickens titled his novel A Christmas Carol, even though it's a book and not a song. Rawle writes that Dickens's Carol was "certainly intended to invoke a reader's familiarity with Christmas songs since the story is organized into five staves, or stanzas, like a piece of music without musical notes" (The Redemption of Scrooge, page 25).

Few things connect us to the Advent and Christmas seasons more than hymns, carols, and popular songs. While we often lump these songs together under the category "Christmas music," some hymns and songs are more appropriate during Advent, while others are a better fit for the Christmas season. Though we often treat Advent as pre-Christmas, Advent and Christmas are distinct seasons. Advent is a season of hopeful preparation when we anticipate Christ entering our world. Christmas is a season when we celebrate Jesus' birth and the good news that God came to live among us in human form.

• Make a list, on a markerboard or large sheet of paper, of hymns and songs that you associate with Christmas. Focus on songs that are about Christ (rather than about Santa Claus, snow, or other seasonal elements). Once you have between twenty and thirty hymns and songs, challenge participants to sort them into two categories: Advent and Christmas.

• As much as possible, come to a group consensus before putting a song in one category or the other. If your group is especially large, divide participants into smaller teams and have each team sort the songs. When there is dispute about where a song should go, have participants make a case for one category or the other.

Then discuss:

• Do you think of Advent and Christmas as two distinct seasons or as one time of year?

• Why do you think the has church traditionally separated Advent and Christmas into two seasons?

• What is the value of setting aside a time of year for hopeful preparation (Advent) and a time for joyous celebration (Christmas)? How can observing these separate seasons help us focus on and develop different aspects of our faith and relationship with God?

• Based on your knowledge of A Christmas Carol, in what ways is it an Advent story? How is it a Christmas story?

Merry Gentlemen and Gentlewomen (10 minutes)

Distribute hymnals or songbooks that include the popular Christmas song, "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen."


• How familiar are you with this song and its lyrics?

• How much thought have you given to what the song's lyrics mean?

Have participants open hymnals or songbooks to "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," a song Dickens mentions specifically in A Christmas Carol. Give them a few minutes to read the words and reflect on their meaning. Suggest that they think about:

• To whom does title refer?

• What is the song saying to these "merry gentlemen"?

Discuss the meaning of the lyrics and participants' answers to these questions. Then ask:

• Read what Rawle says about this song in The Redemption of Scrooge on pages 30-34. What does he say about how the meaning of the song may have changed based on punctuation?

• Based on your understanding of the lyrics, and what Rawle writes about Scrooge's nephew in The Redemption of Scrooge, "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen or God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen," how does Fred, Scrooge's nephew in A Christmas Carol, embody the song's meaning?

• How can you embody the spirit of this song during the Advent and Christmas season?

Rawle says about "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," The words are hopeful. ... Yet the music is composed in a minor key, giving it a somber tone" (The Redemption of Scrooge, page 33).


• What is the relationship between hope and despair? Why might it be appropriate to set hopeful lyrics to a somber tune?

• How does the idea of hope amid darkness apply to the Advent season?


Excerpted from The Redemption of Scrooge Leader Guide by Matt Rawle. Copyright © 2016 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


To the Leader,
1. Bah! Humbug!,
2. The Remembrance of Christmas Past,
3. The Life of Christmas Present,
4. The Hope of Christmas Future,

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