You may already know that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the animated television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was written by Charles M. Schulz – and which made its debut on December 9, 1965. In ways, for me at least, it doesn’t feel quite like Christmas without a delightful dose of the Peanuts gang. Who doesn’t enjoy their jazzy scores, timeless themes, and simple animation? And, in the case of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charles Schulz had to insist upon the inclusion of Luke 2:8-14 as the story’s climax: “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”
The Scripture is quoted (from the King James Bible) by Linus, in response to Charlie Brown’s lament: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” When Charles Schulz originally proposed this, the show’s producer, Lee Mendelson, as well as its director, Bill Melendez, expressed their serious concerns. Melendez warned Schulz: “It’s very dangerous for us to start talking about religion now.” Schulz’s answer was quite simple: “Bill, if we don’t, who will?”
So have some fun with me, if you will, and watch that scene again. Click here for the video. It will take less than two minutes of your time.
If you’re like me, nostalgia will take over in a wonderful way. You remember Linus, don’t you? He never went anywhere without his near-famous blanket. The blanket was first introduced in the Peanuts comic strip in 1954, and was featured throughout the remainder of the strip’s run. Whenever the blanket appears, Linus can be seen carrying it around and sucking his thumb. Various storylines involve Lucy trying to do away with the blanket, disapproval of it from Linus’ unseen grandmother, and Snoopy frequently trying to steal it for himself. The blanket also transforms for use in a plethora of other ways, from a cummerbund to a bullfighter’s cape.
In the Peanuts strips from the later years, Linus sometimes wants to rid himself of blanket-dependence, even though he understands what a mess he is without it. On one occasion Linus attempts to persuade Charlie Brown and Snoopy to take away his blanket and refuse to give it back – no matter how much Linus begs for it. That sounds a lot like you and me – dependent on things we know (somewhere deep inside) we don’t really need.
But back to the scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. As you watch the video clip, pay careful attention to the blanket. As Linus quotes the angel of the Lord speaking to the shepherds – right when he says, “Fear not!” – Linus drops his security blanket. And he doesn’t pick it up for the remainder of the scene in which he tells Charlie Brown the Christmas story.
Was the blanket drop intentional on the part of Charles Schulz? For a man of such creatively detailed significance, I’m rather sure that it must have been. It’s the most profound moment in the story, and it’s a startling revelation in the life of one of its most important characters.
Does not that “Fear not!” apply to us as well? The angel’s “tidings of great joy” are also our reason to celebrate. Christ has come! He lived for us. He died for us. He rose again for us!
I am in touch with at least a few of my own fears, but I don’t know yours. But I do know that all of our fears stem from what appear to be (to us, at least in the moment) very real threats. And I also know that Christ has come to set us free from all our fears (Second Timothy 1:7). Our greatest enemy, death, He has fully conquered on our behalf (John 14:19). Christ owns yesterday, and Christ owns tomorrow. Christ authors human history. Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, forever. For those of us who are in Christ (Romans 8:28), all is well.
In regard to whatever we’ve been hanging onto for security, other than Christ, the time has come. The moment is now. The season of peace is upon us.
So go ahead. Drop it!