‘On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops, and turns, and hugs, as if to say “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.” Back on Earth, we called this Christmas, or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it the Crystal Feast. You know what I call it? I call it expecting something for nothing!’
So says Kazran Sardick, the ‘Scrooge’ in this Doctored version of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’; and there are 4003 ‘life forms’ for whom that ‘something for nothing’ is life itself. They (including the Doctor, Amy and Rory) are passengers in ‘a galaxy-class ship trapped in the cloud layer’ but the President’s urgent call to Sardick, who alone controls the apparatus that controls the skies, is rejected heartlessly.
Enter the Doctor (via the chimney) who realises that if Amy, Rory and the 4000 are to be saved from crashing to their deaths he must find a way to convince Sardick to help; ‘Can’t use the TARDIS ’cause it can’t lock on. So that ship needs to land. But it can’t land unless a very bad man suddenly decides to turn nice just in time for Christmas Day.’
The Doctor sees a ray of hope that Sardik will ‘turn nice’ when, in anger, he cannot bring himself to hit the young boy, the nephew of Abigail who has been placed in suspended animation, frozen in time, as security on her family’s debt to Sardik.
Doctor:‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Sardick.’
Sardick:‘I despise Christmas!’
Doctor: ‘You shouldn’t. It’s very you.’
Sardick: ‘It’s what? What do you mean?’
Doctor: ‘Halfway out of the dark.’
So, ignoring for the moment the little fish that swim in air and even the shark that preys on them (and would if it could on the Doctor too) and paying just lip service to the romance that blossoms between Abigail and the young Kazran, what about Christmas coming halfway between darkness and light?
Matthew, in his gospel, says of Jesus, the Christ of Christmas, ‘the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ Matthew 4:16
In the course of his ministry Jesus would say to Nicodemus, a leading Rabbi, ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:19-21
‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’, said Jesus (John 6:44) but even in that experience of being drawn to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins we often waver, afraid of the light that he brings to bear on the dark places of our lives.
- How sad if Christmas were only ever a celebration that ‘we’re halfway out of the dark’, when Jesus has promised so clearly, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12
- How sad for Kazran and Abigail that when only one more Christmas Eve with her was possible before she died, Kazran chose to leave her there, frozen in time rather than share those hours with her.When finally he wakes her so that she can sing to save that spacecraft, it is Abigail who says to him, ‘We’ve had so many Christmas Eves, Kazran. I think it’s time for Christmas Day.’
- How desperately sad that we ever delay coming to Jesus for forgiveness of sin and the gifts of light and life and love that he brings; stuck in time on ‘Christmas Eve’, knowing that Jesus has come, convinced in our heads and in our hearts by the Spirit of God that he has come for us.When we have had so many Christmas Eves, isn’t it time at last for Christmas day?