Dear Members and Friends of St. Paul Lutheran Church,
A Charlie Brown Christmas has aired on national prime time television for over fifty years! I believe it is scheduled to air this year on December 19 on PBS. But check your local listings or maybe you can stream it.
If you know me well, you'll know that I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas. So when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.
I found this little nugget of information recently, that has changed how I will watch the Charlie Brown Christmas this year, and in years to come. Perhaps you already knew this, but I had not.
As you know, never in Charlie Brown's cartoon strips or televised depictions do we see Linus without his blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work, to no avail, to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up. Until one scene, that I had never noticed, in A Charlie Brown's Christmas.
As Linus is reciting his infamous version of the biblical account of Jesus' birth in Luke's gospel, it happens. Right in the middle of sharing "what Christmas is all about", Linus drops his blanket. It's subtle, and I believe, intentional. Because, most telling is the specific moment that he drops it: when he utters the words, "fear not." Watch closely for it, and you'll see. Subtle. Intentional.
[Watch the clip of Linus' speech - drops blanket at :39 seconds in]
Intentional I think, because to me, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying - that the birth of Jesus separates us from our fears; that the birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves; and that the birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.
Such a powerful message of Christmas.
This world is an uncertain and scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. As much as we try to, ours is a world in which it is very difficult for us to "fear not." Even in the midst of ongoing congregational change, our tendency is to grasp onto what was (there's a sense of security in that) instead of letting go and moving into the future.
Trust in the gift that is Advent. For in the midst of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity, this simple cartoon clip from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found - in Emmanuel, God with us.
Side Note: if you continue watching, you'll notice that when Linus finishes speaking, he picks the blanket back up! Why would Linus pick that old security blanket back up after so boldly proclaiming an end to fear? That is a lesson for another day, but one that we each can also, understand. We all carry that same blanket, don't we? And it is not easy to let go.
Let go of it. Leave it behind. And trust in the Child who is to come.
See you in Church! (and bring a friend!)