Advent Devotional - Day 19

Thursday, December 17
Luke 2:9-11

Christmas brings up a lot of memories for me: hot chocolate with marshmallows, going out to the Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect tree, and going through the Sears Catalog highlighting the things I wanted Santa to bring are among my favorites. But there is probably no Christmas image more holy to me than the sight (or more specifically, the sound) of Linus coming to the stage and telling Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang “what Christmas is all about.” I figure a little background is key here. I grew up in Santa Rosa, California, right in the heart of wine country. But more importantly, it was the home of Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comics. The house I grew up in was a mere 3 or 4 blocks from the Snoopy Museum and Ice Rink. No kidding, I’ve literally played in Snoopy’s doghouse and learned to skate on Snoopy’s Ice Rink (and I’ve still got the patches with Snoopy’s face to prove it)!

But of all the Snoopy memories, none holds more power than the moment Charlie Brown’s Christmas play falls apart because nobody can seem to understand the Christmas spirit. So Linus walks to the stage and calmly recites today’s reading from Luke. In less than a minute, Linus explains to Charlie and the gang that Christmas isn’t about the quality of their trees or the brightness of their production’s light. Christmas is about a baby born in a manger.

The shepherds were simply minding their own business and watching their sheep. All of a sudden, angels showed up. And the shepherds were TERRIFIED, because, you know… ANGELS! I’ve never seen an angel, but I think if I did, I’d be in the fetal position crying faster than you could say,  “Hallelujah!” And yet, here was an angel appearing to the shepherds, reminding them there was nothing to be afraid of. Their savior was born. Everything was changing, but that wasn’t something to fear. It was something to celebrate!

The greatest moment in Linus’ speech comes when he tells the assembly, “Fear not, for I bring tidings of great joy.” It’s a simple line, but in the background, there’s a monumental shift: Linus drops his blanket! If you’re not a Peanuts fan, you should know that Linus NEVER goes anywhere without his blanket. It was more than his security. It was his everything. It was his safety. And yet, in that moment, he drops it. Even for Linus, the arrival of Jesus meant there was nothing to be afraid of that was bigger than the hope and joy we find in the baby born in a manger all those years ago.

Reflection by Martin Leathers

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