In our final Sunday Sermon before Christmas, we are going to look at a beloved animated Christmas special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Most of you I am sure have seen this special on television or on video. A stressed, depressed and over-burdened Charlie Brown, after seeing everyone around him obsessed with the commercial aspect of Christmas, (even his own dog Snoopy), and even after trying to get more involved in Christmas and being made fun of for buying a small but real Christmas tree instead of the “shiny aluminum one” that they told him to, finally asks in frustration, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus tells Charlie Brown that he knows what Christmas is all about and responds by reading him the following verses:
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 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.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Sometimes today, it is easy to feel like Charlie Brown….. We are now only 2 days away from Christmas, and yet some stores have had Christmas decorations and merchandise on their shelves since mid-October. We have been bombarded by department store sales ads in our mailboxes, newspapers, TV screens and online since about that same time. Stores now are in the final push with some of them reducing the Christmas aisles to only a couple and already starting to put Valentines day merchandise out. For those of us who celebrate Christmas for what it is, the birth of our Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ, it can get depressing to see Christmas ushered in and out so fast….
Maybe we NEED a Charlie Brown Christmas…. A Christmas where even though there may be gifts, that is not our primary focus. Our primary focus being instead the gift that was given by God Almighty to all of mankind, that gift that was no adorned with ribbons or bow, but instead was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and was born in a manger.
If we look at the rest of our verses for today, we will find out who the first people other than Joseph & Mary, were to receive this gift, and why we can learn a lot from them……
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Now why is it significant that the angels appeared to these shepherds? Because it set the tone for the life and the Ministry of Jesus. These men were the lowest people on the social ladder. They would not have been educated, most likely they could not read or write. They worked weeks at a time camping out in the fields while tending the sheep existing on what they could gather or possibly hunt from the land. They were expected to lay down their lives if it came to that to protect the flocks that they were charged with guarding, and yet they were paid next to nothing. And yet it was to these men who lived on the fringe of society that God in His wisdom announced the birth of the Savior to. And what did they do upon hearing the news? They went straight to Bethlehem and found Jesus and when they had seen Him, they told anyone and everyone who would listen what the angels had told them and that the Messiah was now born. These unlearned, rough men became the first evangelists of Jesus Christ!!
It has always been that way…. Even in the Old Testament, when God chose another shepherd who was just a boy to be King, it is those of low estate who will listen and be more receptive to the word of God. Kind of like Charlie Brown in the film, a person who is imperfect, who is not confident in himself understands and accepts the message of God. The message that Unto Us A Child Is Born…. And because of that willing acceptance and belief, people like that are often called to carry the message of Christ.
In Closing today, I just want to share a couple of things. When this TV special was released on December 9th, 1965, it was released right in the middle of the “God is dead” phase. When academics and “enlightened” people said that they needed no God. Even the TV network execs did not want Peanuts creator Charles Shultz to include the Christmas Story from Luke in the special. They assumed that the audience would not want to sit through a reading from the Bible. Mr. Shultz, a devout Christian steadfastly refused and the scene from Luke was left in. Much to the surprise of the TV execs, 50% of TV sets in the United States tuned in to watch that special, it won an Emmy and a Peabody award, and even the critics in “enlightened” New York wrote that Linus telling the Christmas Story from Luke was the highlight of the season.
So my friends, I ask you today, on this last Sunday before Christmas, as we know that the wait for our Savior and Lord is almost over, to take a break from the hustle and bustle. Put down the shopping bags, the TV remotes, whatever it is that is occupying your life at this time and pick up your Bible. Read the 2nd Chapter of Luke and really let its meaning get into your heart.
Maybe a Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t such a bad thing after all………..
God Bless you all & Merry Christmas!!