For over 5 decades, I have enjoyed watching the animated television program, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Though the script is simple, it has two important lessons for this time of year.
The first is when Charlie Brown is feeling depressed and let down, Lucy provides good counsel, “You need involvement.” She offers him the director’s role in the Christmas play. Sometimes circumstances cause us to feel discouraged or depressed and these feelings are often accentuated during the holidays. Lucy’s advice is sound; get involved. Serving at a non-profit, volunteering at your church, feeding the homeless, etc. are all are great ways to buoy one’s spirit.
The second focuses on the real meaning of Christmas. Charlie Brown observes his trusty pet’s dog house all lit up with festive lights and competing in a Lights and Display contest. In dismay, he expresses, “My own dog - gone commercial. I can’t stand it.” This is further compounded when his baby sister shares that she wants plenty of gifts and cash, her “fair share” which leaves him baffled.
During the Christmas program practice, Charlie had problems getting the play organized and ready to go. Charlie shows his frustration to Lucy, who replies that “Christmas is a big commercial racket. It is run by a big eastern syndicate you know.” Charlie asserts that this is one play that is not going to be commercial. In desiring to set the mood right, he sets out to get a Christmas tree. Lucy and her friends ask him to bring back the largest aluminum tree. As Charlie and Linus search for a tree, Charlie finds a small, but real tree and brings it back and sits in on the piano.
You may recall, he is scorned and ridiculed, called names such as stupid and dumb, and told he is not dependable and hopeless. In total desperation and in exasperation, he shares with Linus, “I guess I don’t know what Christmas is all about.” He then raises his voice, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
It is in that moment that Linus calmly replies, “Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” As he walks on the stage, he asks for the lights to be turned on. The cast all watches as he shares the well-known verses on Luke 2.
“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 sore 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; Ye 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.”
After a slight pause, Linus says, “That is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
With a smile on his face, Charlie takes the tree and walks out in the snow. He pauses reflecting on the words that Linus just shared and said, “I won’t let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas.”
He sets the tree down and after decorating it with one ornament, he thinks he has killed the tree. In a few moments all his friends help decorate the tree so it looks beautiful. Charlie comes back and admires the tree and the show ends with them singing,
Hark the herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn King.
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!
Let’s not let commercialism ruin our Christmas season. It is not about the gifts, it is not about the size of the tree, it is not about the lights. It is not about what others think of us. Christmas is about our God who loves us so much that He gave us Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer so we might have an abundant life.
On behalf of all of us at Southwestern Adventist University, Merry Christmas!!