At 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, our community will gather to remember that our wait is over. We light a fourth candle, we remember that Christ would come not only as a Son, but as Immanuel - God with us. So we will celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Good Shepherd, the forgiver of our sins, the Jesus who will come again, the Son of Mary and the Son of God!
In 1965 Charles Schulz and the Peanuts gang struggled with the commercialization of Christmas. Imagine what they would think today - when Christmas decorations were available for purchase in big box stores in August!!
Charlie Brown loses his way when he tries to direct his friends in their Christmas Pageant. In frustration he bursts out with, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about!?!”
And Linus, dragging his security blanket onto center stage, stands alone and recites Luke 2:8-14 (we’re using the CEB):
8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
CBS execs thought this was a mistake; but the viewers loved it. They needed to hear Linus’ answer even as they needed to wrestle with Charlie Brown’s question. Has that much changed? Oh sure, we have iPads and cell phones. We have more allergies and less fresh trees in our living rooms. But I think we need to consider both the question and the answer.
Who knows what Christmas is all about?
We know. We actually know. Especially if we have misbehaved, been beaten down, live on the margins, have griefs and losses. We know. We more than anyone who hasn’t known personal failures and bone shaking heartbreak that our baubles and beads cannot provide collective effervescence.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” On Christmas Eve, we light a candle with joy and hope because of who God is. Not because we have lived up to our own expectations for happiness, success, and security. Amen