With Christmas almost here, and the New Year right around the corner, it’s certainly a busy time. There are Christmas programs, special church services, last minute shopping trips, wrapping gifts, decking the halls, traveling to see other family, going to ride the Polar Express, take the little ones to see Santa, and well, you know.
There’s so much to do. It’s easy to let the hyper holiday pace take control. But we’ll never make the most out of the season unless we can find some time to slow down. To just pause for a moment and reflect on what the Christmas season is all about.
Let’s take a look at what it’s not. It’s not just a time to get stuff, although we probably will. It’s not just a time to sell stuff, but many of us will do that too. I heard that some stores do more than half of their annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m hoping to sell some memberships too.
But you have to admit, we’ve kind of over-commercialized Christmas. I mean, when the displays come out before our Thanksgiving meals have even gotten cold? And we can get so wrapped up in the mechanics of it all, it’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about. It’s hard to beat the way Linus handled it in the animated Christmas special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Originally airing in 1965, the special was based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schultz. Produced for just $96,000, Schultz had been looking for a way to address the secularization of Christmas, by telling the Christmas story in the Bible. Against the recommendations of his producers, he went ahead with the story.
In the Christmas special, Charlie Brown is faced with all the distractions and commercialization of Christmas (and this was in 1965, remember). Finally he gets frustrated and says, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus says, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?” He continues, “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.”
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
In case you’d like to read more of the Christmas story, Linus was quoting the King James Version (KJV) of Luke 2:8-14. It’s going to be busy this next week; at times, crazy even. But I hope you’ll take a moment and consider what we learned from Linus, 50 years ago: “For unto you a child is born…”. Merry Christmas!