Our world has changed dramatically since the Christmas Season of 1965. That was the year that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first aired on CBS. It has been enjoyed by millions ever since and has become as much a part of American Holiday TV as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But, in 2012, it is not politically correct to tell the Christmas story on secular TV. In 2012, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Chanukah, and even Earth Day are all approved subjects for public consumption. Christmas, on the other hand, creates controversy even when expressed in a 47-year old cartoon.
A Charlie Brown Christmas Parable
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the depiction of the loneliness that many feel during the season and the joy that comes from inclusion. It also contrasts the sacred with the secular in Christmas, and that is the source of the controversy. “Sacred” is not an acceptable topic for secularists.
Charlie Brown and the little Christmas tree are parallel characters. Each of them is considered by their peers to be defective and unwanted. Charlie Brown begins the show looking into an empty mailbox, finding nothing, and exclaiming he “just doesn’t understand” Christmas. All his friends are so shallow consumed with the secular trappings of the season, that they find Charlie Brown’s search for meaning beyond their understanding.
For the other characters, Christmas is all about Santa and the gifts that they will receive. Using comically PC language for today, Sally, Charlie’s own sister, says she only wants her “fair share” of the Christmas loot. The children in the Peanuts neighborhood don’t understand Christmas any more than the secularists of today. Self-centeredness and consumption have replaced peace on earth and good will toward men.
When sent to pick out a Christmas tree, Charlie Brown picks the sorriest tree on the lot, proclaiming, “This little one needs a home.” After much initial ridicule from the rest of the cast, the tree is trimmed and is transformed into a beautiful centerpiece for celebration. The tree is a beautiful symbol of God’s relationship with His creation.
That poor tree was ugly and useless. There was nothing the tree could do for itself. That little tree was not just unappealing, it was wretched. Guess what? We are like that forlorn tree. We are wretched and hopeless. Our world is ugly and our presence does nothing to enhance it. There is nothing about us that makes us appealing, we need “a home,” and love that is beyond our own ability to earn or deserve.
Choosing us makes no more sense that Charlie Brown’s selection of that little tree. No one can understand why He would choose us, but He did. Instead of being abandoned, we were suddenly included. Instead of being the object of ridicule, we unexpectedly have eternal value. After choosing us, he “decorated” us with His own love, mercy, grace, and righteousness. He made the ugly beautiful.
The real story of the Birth of Christ contained in the Gospel of Luke is recited by Linus in the performance. Secular humanists, et. al., would much prefer it not be included, but Charles Schulz was adamant about its inclusion almost 50 years ago, and so it remains.
Frankly, the Gospel is the point; the point of A Charlie Brown Christmas; the point of the Holiday; and the point of life itself. We were without hope and God chose to become one of us so that we would have the opportunity to know Him. Why would He choose to do such a thing? No good reason, but He did. He “decorated” an ugly tree on Calvary’s hill so that He might “decorate” us with peace, joy, love, and eternal life.
If you celebrate another holiday at this time of the year, I wish you a sincere, “Happy Holiday.” But, I expect your respect of MY Holiday in return. No matter how much you secularize, marginalize, ridicule and sue, Jesus is still the reason for the season.
Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown and to you!