I love watching movies at Christmastime and there is hardly a holiday season that goes by that doesn’t have me enjoying, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th street and It’s A Wonderful Life. Last week A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 53rd time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 + years of anything becomes quite meaningful. I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.
Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees everyone exhibit during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from clinging to his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.
In that climactic scene when Linus, in response to Charlie Brown’s lament, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” walks to the pageant’s center stage where a theatrical spot light shines down upon him like a Bethlehem star, he recites the New Testament scripture passage from Luke 2: 8-14:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
I wonder if you ever noticed what Linus does during his recitation.
When he utters the words, “fear not” Linus drops his security blanket. Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Peanuts creator Charles Schultz was saying and what we as pastors are given the privilege to communicate:
*Because of the birth of Jesus, we can let go of our fears.
*Because of the birth of Jesus, we are set free from from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.
*Because of the birth of Jesus we can simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.
The world we live in can be a scary place, and as we seek to lead effective churches, most of us find ourselves grasping onto something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. As we enter the year of our Lord 2019, it looks to be a scary place that will very difficult for us to “not fear.”
But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple T.V. cartoon from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.
Because of Jesus the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father Prince of Peace. We can have confidence in leading his church in the new year.