I am going to make a guess that most of you, if not all of you have seen the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It is a timeless classic, and I remember gathering around the TV as a family to watch it air just before Christmas. Even now, as an adult, Christmas is just not complete without Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the others. If you remember, Charlie Brown is searching for the meaning of Christmas. He is frustrated by the commercialism of the holiday and he’s looking for something more. Exasperated he yells, “Doesn’t anyone know what the meaning of Christmas is?” Linus, his best friend, says “I do Charlie Brown”. He walks on to the stage the lights dim and he begins to recite the Christmas story as told by Luke. I love that scene, I always did even as a child. I knew it was coming but I couldn’t wait for it. It always put me in the right state of mind as Christmas Day drew near. There was something about that scene, however, that I hadn’t noticed until a year or two ago. A social media post was circulating, pointing out that just at the moment when Linus is reciting the story and he says that angels appeared with a message from the Lord, and just as they say “Fear not”, he lets go of his trusty blanket. The same blanket that in every other scene he never lets go of. It is his comfort, his security. Yet in this moment he just tosses aside.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was intended by the Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. In an article I was reading about him it says, “unshell the Peanuts and you’ll find the fingerprints of Schultz’s faith” When Charlie Brown’s Christmas first aired less than 9% of all Christmas specials had any mention of the true meaning of Christmas, the story of the birth of Christ. It wasn’t just his Christmas Special either, in his comic strips he made hundreds of references to the Bible and to God. In an interview Schultz said, “I preach in these cartoons, and I reserve the same right to say what I want to say as the minister in the pulpit.” What is great about the Peanuts cartoon is his ability to both say and draw his message, like the message we get from the dropped blanket.
That gesture teaches us so much about God and about ourselves. The blanket can symbolize two things, first it can symbolize the fear and anxiety we hold on to or the sadness and sorrow we may experience missing a loved one. Or it could be the struggles we have with illness, finances, or broken relationships. Often times we hold on yo these things. For whatever reason we cling to them and sadly they can keep us from experiencing joy and peace.
The blanket can also symbolize the things in this life which we cling to that offer us false security. In all reality that little blue blanket really cannot do much for Linus other than perhaps keep him warm on a cool night. And just the same, sometimes we search for things to help us feel better, we cling to material possessions, to money, to relationships and inevitably none of these offer full 100% security.
So you take your pick. The blanket could be fear or sadness that we cannot let go of or it could be the things we are clinging onto that offer us false security. Regardless of what it is, what needs to happen is for us to all drop the blanket. Linus tells us how we can, and that is by receiving and believing the good news of Jesus.
Christmas is the day we celebrate ultimate love, the day we celebrate God’s gift of his one and only son who saves us. Jesus came to earth, as a baby, but grew to be a man who would live a perfect life, and willingly go to the cross, to take on the sin of the world and in doing so he defeated death and because of this we can have hope that one day, when he returns all things will be made new and there will be no more sadness, no more tears, no more illness.
The prophet Isaiah foretold of Jesus’ arrival and all that he would bring with him, in this beautiful passage, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Even though he came as a little helpless baby he brought with him the glory of God as a wonderful counselor, one who’s wisdom is beyond human capabilities. He came as the Mighty God, in the flesh, and as the everlasting Father the one who will care eternally and perfectly for his children. Finally he cam as the Prince of Peace, a ruler who bring with him eternal peace, a perfect ruler, one whom we can place our trust and whom we can follow with the assurance that by doing so we will be walking the way of life. When we accept this truth about Jesus, we can live into those words, “Fear not”. When we believe in Jesus Christ and trust in him we can replace our fears with hope and we can replace that little blue blanket with the blanket of salvation.
Jesus came into this world. God came into this world to redeem it. He came because he loved us so much that he willingly gave up everything in order to ensure that his creation had access to full restoration. He came as a light in this world to show us the way to a full and meaningful life. The true meaning of Christmas, is the true meaning of life. Jesus has come to save you. With salvation comes hope and peace and joy – all things we need especially after a year like 2020, especially if we are mourning the loss of loved ones, especially in this world where sadly fear and pain exists.
This Christmas we should all be taking a lesson from Linus, letting go of the blanket and living into the angel’s message, fear not. Part of letting go of the blanket and letting go of our fear is so we can share the good news with others. Letting go of the things that hold us back releases us from bondage and enables us to freely share the love of Christ with others. The shepherds exhibited this Luke tells us, when he writes, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw the angels, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them” They received the good news, they believed in it and they shared it because it was such an amazing thing they couldn’t help but share it.
The story of Jesus’s birth, isn’t just a nice story it is the truth of God’s physical entrance into this world and with it comes the truth of how we can have eternal life and how we can live without the bondage of sin and fear. It is the key to peace and joy, and our hope for the eternal love of God. Be like the shepherds, receive, believe and go tell everyone! Be like Linus, drop the blanket and fear not!