Last night my ten-year-old cousin who has been a believer for less than two years wanted to read the “Christmas story” from the gospel of Luke at our annual family gathering for the first time this has been read at this particular family gathering.
As he stumbled over a few names but read with clarity and courage the words of Holy Writ, my thoughts drifted to the overall picture here. Forty-five years ago, on December 9, 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted on ABC, as over half of Americans with televisions watched. They were delighted as they watched everyone’s favorite pessimist ever in search of an elusive silver lining as he is confronted with commercialism from alumininum Christmas trees (painted pink!), to a decorated dog house, to distracted fellow peanuts. Finally, in a moment of exasperation he exclaims, “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about!?” At that moment, the least likely of characters, the boy in the corner with the blanket who occasionally sucks his thumb and has a loud-mouthed sister, Linus, replies, “Sure Charlie Brown, I will tell you what Christmas is all about.” Taking center stage with a spotlight, he then recites from the same passage my cousin read last night:
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 Saviour,
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.
Charles “Sparky” Shultz first faced concern from his co-producers in including this central moment in the special. He stated that the show had to be about “something” and if it were not, “why bother doing it?” When pressed once more about the inclusion of the Biblical text he stated, “If we don’t do it, who will?” And so there it was, the real meaning of Christmas being proclaimed the millions of witnesses in 1965 and for the last four decades as people tune in to watch Snoopy and the gang. And there we were last night, enraptured in the slow and steady reading of a confident (may I add, and meek and unassuming,) ten-year-old (our very own Linus). What I think the two demonstrate, and what the overall picture here is – is that big things come in small and unassuming packages, and this One just happens to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. Thank you Sparky and Cousin for reminding us that Christmas is not about a what, but a Who.
Reference: The Washington Post