And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
At our house, over the Christmas season we love to curl up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch Christmas movies and Christmas specials. We watch Miracle on 34th Street, Elf much to John’s chagrin, The Santa Clause with Tim Allen, and the original animated Grinch. But one of my favourite Christmas television specials of all time is: A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Nearly 50 years ago, Charles Schulz and the Peanuts gang were already struggling with an overly commercialized holiday season. Even Charlie Brown himself loses sight of the true meaning of Christmas when he tries to direct his friends in a Christmas pageant. Finally, he shouts in frustration, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
In one of the most astounding moments in television history, Linus answers Charlie Brown’s question. He drags his blanket to center stage, stands alone in a simple spotlight, and recites the Christmas story from Luke 2:8-14. Linus says, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
It seems so simple. Yet today, many people celebrate the holiday for a lot of reasons, and some have nothing to do with the birth of Christ, like family traditions, a day off from work, a time of gift-giving, Santa Claus, parties and so on. Commercialism and materialism is a part of the fabric of Christmas celebrations in our culture.
In my house, we need Linus’ answer every year. Jesus is more than just a baby in a manger. He is more than just a good teacher and a storyteller. He is more than our prayer buddy who takes our requests to God. Jesus is our Savior. He is Christ. He is the Lord, fully God and fully human.
During the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I hope we are all taking time like this to reflect, to meet with family and friends, to shine a spot-light onto the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t about presents. It isn’t about decorations or food or cookies or caroling. Although those are all fun ways to celebrate, they are not our reason for celebration. Christmas is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His life is a model for how we should live. His death for our sins is a model of the humble nature we should have. And his resurrection is a promise that someday we will know peace on earth and good will toward all people.
Joanne Ritchie | Soul Sanctuary