[Note: This post was originally published here on December 9, 2007. It was reprised last year. And due to the significant traffic it receives all year-long, but especially this time of year, it is being republished again this year, with some updates to reflect the current date. ABC will broadcast A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight at 7 pm CST.]
Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of the release of the animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. On December 9, 1965, CBS took a big chance on a Christmas program that they had some serious reservations about. Coca-Cola was the sponsor of the show. A Charlie Brown Christmas broke with many of the rules of production and programming of the day. It had no laugh track and for the character voices, rather than using adults pretending to be children, they actually used children. Perhaps most unusual was the use of Scripture to explain the meaning of Christmas. The director of the program approached Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas, to talk him out of quoting the Bible. Schultz reportedly said “If we don’t do it, who will?”
Here is a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas. For me, this is the most memorable part of the whole program.
Did you watch the clip? Did you notice something unusual? Yeah, Scripture was quoted, it was Luke 2: 8-14, from the King James Version. But there was something else. Did you catch it? Probably not, because it is very subtle.
Linus Van Pelt (did you know his last name is Van Pelt?) is known in the Peanuts comic strip for his security blanket. He always has it, and in spite of the grief he gets from his sister Lucy, he is committed to that blanket. The need for something like a blanket for security speaks more about a person’s insecurities, than about the security that an object (like a blanket) can provide. Even the most confident among us have some amount of insecurity in our lives. And those insecurities keep us off-balance and on-edge.
There is something instructive for us in Linus’ reciting of Luke 2: 8-14. As Linus comes to Luke 2: 10, he says “And the angel said unto them. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Here is what you probably did not notice in the clip. As soon as Linus says “Fear not“, he drops his security blanket. Or thought of another way he lets go of his insecurities! We can do the same thing. In Christ, fear is replaced by love (1 John 4: 18). Uncertainty is replaced by hope which is firm and secure (Heb 6: 19).
At the end of Linus’ recitation, he quotes Luke 2: 14 and says “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” In my Greek dictionary, the word that is translated into English as “peace” is described like this:
a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being brought about by God’s mercy granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.
The bottom line of the Christmas story is the very incarnation of God’s mercy. The embodiment of God’s grace for mankind. Jesus left the glory of heaven to bring to all who believe, deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin. Jesus offers us the opportunity to exchange our sins and our insecurities for His peace. As we anticipate the celebration of the Lord’s birth, my encouragement to you is to let go of your insecurities and cling to the peace of Christ.
Sadly, Linus picks up his blanket again at the end of his recitation of Scripture and so his insecurities. But he is just a cartoon character. We can choose to deal with our insecurities differently. Because we are the REAL DEAL, invited to experience REAL PEACE, offered by a REAL GOD.