I just watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” again last week. It makes me literally laugh out loud every time I see it.
But what I love more than the humorous bits that fill the show is the part where Charlie Brown is trying to direct the play and no one is listening to him. Then he brings in that pathetic-looking tree and everyone laughs at him.
Frustrated, he yells, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is all about?”
My man Linus steps forward and says that he knows and then proceeds to quote a passage from 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.”
And then he says, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
The Peanuts gang reminded me how distracting the Christmas season can be for many of us.
The presents and shopping, the wrapping and shipping. Cookies and candies and chocolate for dipping.
The twinkling of the lights on tall and tinseled trees. Stockings and silver bells and little ones on Santa’s knees.
The parties and people, the ribbons and bows. Red and green painted elves and Rudolph with his big, bright nose.
None of these are necessarily bad things — and can even be good — but many times they come as distractions when we don’t focus on what we should.
In Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol,” Jacob Marley’s ghost spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge about this: “Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness! Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused! Yet such was I! Oh! Such was I!”
He continued, “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”
Now, I must admit, there’s not many who enjoy this time of season more than I, with its music and movies, getting together with family and friends, enjoying goodies galore, and the like. But have I forgotten to raise my eyes, as Marley’s ghost says, to that blessed Star?
Those wise men of long ago faithfully followed that shining star, sacrificing their time, energy and gifts in searching for and worshipping the newborn child.
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him….When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2).
Following the star today can lead us to the Savior, just as it did the wise men. It can help us remember it is better to give than to receive, just as he gave his life for us.
It can guide us to those in need and to opportunities we may miss by other distractions.
It can help us to keep Christmas in our hearts throughout the year, just as Scrooge discovered in Dickens’ tale.
It can remind us what Christmas is all about, like Linus told good ol’ Charlie Brown.
It can mean different things to different people. And it will determine what each one of us focuses on this time of year.
Following the star, those many years ago, led the wise men to the Messiah. What will it lead you to?