I though this was a very thoughtful obervation by Tony Reinke:
For Dickens, Christmas is a reminder that we are all Scrooges, self-centered ungrateful nobs who yet have some hope of appeasing God through our personal reform.
For Handel, Christmas reminds us that we are all sinners, we are “in Adam,” and for that we are helpless to stop God’s righteous judgment towards our sin. Yet there is One who has paid the price to quench God’s wrath on our behalf.
In both A Christmas Carol and Messiah, our warm tranquil Hallmark Christmas sentimentality gets blasted by cold reality. Death is coming for us all, and the grave is approaching quickly.
Dickens wants people to die in peace.
Handel wants people to get raised from the dead.
Dickens’ hope is rooted in the future – in the finished work of moral reform necessary in our lives.
Handel’s hope is rooted in the past — the full and complete work of Christ on our behalf. Dickens’ message is “do.” Handel’s message is “done.”
Dickens’ work is good for what it is, a seasonal, warmhearted morality tale. For that I find it agreeable and commendable.
But Handel’s work comprehends the scope of the hope-giving and guilt-freeing meaning of Christmas. For that I find eternal comfort, and hope for my ongoing battle against my inner self-centered, thankless Scrooge.