Like many families, there are a few movies that we like to watch together at Christmas. One of them is Elf, the other is A Charlie Brown Christmas.
This past Sunday I preached a message titled “Paradoxes and Promises” from Luke 2:8-38. The beginning of that text is the famous Christmas passage about the angelic announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds who were watching their flocks in a nearby field – the same text that Linus reads at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
I mentioned in my sermon some interesting things I had learned about the film, particularly that Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, was a devout Christian, and when he was asked in 1965 to create a Christmas special for CBS featuring the Peanuts characters, Schulz agreed… with one caveat: he would only do it if they would let him include the story of the birth of Jesus.
CBS executives were hesitant about including this, but because Peanuts was so popular, they conceded and agreed to allow Schulz to include it in the show. However, both the producer and the director tried hard to dissuade him from including it, first of all because they thought it would be boring to have a scripture reading in a television program, and secondly, because even then it was considered controversial. Schulz refused to budge. He reportedly said at one point, “We must tell this story! If we don’t do it, who will?”
Schulz won out, and as a result, for the past 50 years, millions of families and scores of children have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and heard the story of Jesus and “what Christmas is all about.”
After service, a friend came up to me and told me something I had never realized about that scene where Linus tells the Christmas story: He drops his blanket – his security blanket.
And it was intentional.
While sharing the message of “what Christmas is all about,” Linus drops his blanket at the exact moment he says the words, “fear not!”
Here’s the video of that scene, check it out:
The message it communicates is that because Jesus has come into the world to be our Savior, we can let go of the things we have been clinging to and looking for security in, and we can find true security in Him.
If you look again, that’s not the only subtle message Charles Schulz put into the scene. Notice how when Linus starts speaking about Jesus, that message takes center stage, and gets put in the spotlight.
May that be true of us this Christmas as well: that we put Jesus at center stage, and give Him the spotlight, and as we do so, may we find true peace and security in Him.