My wife laughed at me the first time (well, every time) I told this story. Several years ago while attending Seminary, I lived with my uncle. One night during the Christmas holidays I was working in my bedroom, and was watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. Although I had seen the program several times, for some reason it grabbed my attention when Charlie Brown yells, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” As Linus began reciting the Christmas story from Luke’s gospel, tears began streaming down my face and I felt a very strong presence of God’s Spirit.
A quick Google search reveals that I’m not the only person who has found this clip very moving. A 2005 article by USA Today calls the special “a staple of family holiday traditions and an icon of American pop culture.” Nearly 13.6 million people watched the program in 2004, which is now in its 45th year.
I think I wept that night for several reasons. I recognized that the message of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed to millions on primetime television. I was reminded of all those around who were hurting, searching for true meaning in life, grasping at any semblance of happiness or fulfillment, and were crying out to be told the true meaning of life and Christmas. I was also convicted of my own ways and reminded of my constant need to re-focus.
In the world of policing, the Christmas holidays mean an increase in property crimes like car break-ins and burglaries. There is an increase in domestic violence, suicide attempts, road-raging drivers, and other disorders. In short, they mean more danger, more work, and more unhappy “customers.” Kind of puts one in the Christmas spirit, huh? We still have to deal with our own families, travel plans, work schedules…and these days, financial strains.
Charlie Brown found himself – in the midst of a materialistic, misguided society – searching for the true meaning of Christmas. He sensed a void that just could not be satisfied by the fame of directing the local Christmas program or the decor of his ever-so-famous Christmas tree. When his frustration finally boils over, we find him asking, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
Enter Linus. With a child-like simplicity and sincerity, he presents the message of Christmas found in Luke 2. Jesus – sent from Heaven by the Father, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, heralded by angels, and worshipped by humanity – was God’s gift to us. As Isaiah prophesied in 9:6-7, He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the One who would bring order and justice. He came at a time of great turmoil. The religious leaders were vain, the government was corrupt, taxes were increasing, sin still plagued humanity, and God had seemingly not spoken to His people in nearly 400 years.
Enter Emmanuel – Jesus, the one who is “God with us” and will never leave us. In His birth we find significance. In His life we find the example for life and ministry. In His death we find redemption. In His resurrection we find hope. In His return we find eternal life in His presence that is free from all tears, sorrow, suffering, pain, and death (Revelation 21:6).
Charlie Brown realized that Christmas is all about Jesus. Jesus is love, peace, healing, comfort, counsel, and order. Jesus is fulfillment. Every gift is given in love and as an example of the loving gift our Father gave to us when He sent Jesus. A Charlie Brown Christmas is one where he found renewed meaning, significance, and fulfillment in Jesus Christ. It is one where his heart was warmed with the love of the Father, and re-focused on the things that matter most.
This Christmas, I wish you and yours a Charlie Brown Christmas!