On December 9, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas was aired for the first time. I do not remember whether or not we watched that year as a family, but my hunch is that we probably did. I remember watching every year, along with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
While I have a love of almost all things Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas has always had a special place in my heart. The music, the ice skating, Snoopy’s decorations and the sad little tree make me smile every year. And every time I watch it, I wait for Linus to share the Christmas story from Luke, the second chapter.
Several years ago, my associate Rev. Christopher Eshelman pointed out that as Linus shared that story, something amazing happened. When Linus recited the lines, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not,'” Linus drops his blanket. Linus, who is mocked by his sister Lucy for his clinging to his blanket, drops it when he proclaims the angels message.
Now, I am not sure how Christopher found this insight, but it was long before the many blogs I have seen about that moment since then. The point is, that in this simple children’s cartoon program there are some amazing moments, not the least of which is Linus’ ability to drop his security blanket.
I suspect all of us have a bit of these characters in us: Lucy’s superiority and snobbiness; Pig-Pen’s ability to attract dirt; Charlie Brown’s feeling of being a loser and always on the outside and of course, Linus’ insecurity and need for a blanket. We may not live out these characteristics every day, but I suspect they show up at different moments in our lives and often when we least expect them.
“Fear not!” the angel proclaims. Linus proclaims it to Charlie Brown in the confusion as to why Christmas is important and what it means. Everyone of those characters needs the promise and the hope of “Fear not!”
Fear not Lucy, you don’t need to be better than any one to be loved. You are loved and you don’t need to put anyone down in order to receive that love. Fear not Pig-Pen! Yes life is sometimes messy and downright dirty, but you are loved and you don’t have to clean up your act to be loved.
Fear not Charlie Brown! You don’t have to figure everything out to be loved, your don’t have to be perfect or have it all together. You are loved. Fear not Linus! Yes the world is scary place sometimes, and it is okay to need blanket now and then. You are loved!
Fear not! Behold I bring tidings of great joy! Christmas is the good news of God among us. God comes into our messy, anxious, uncertain lives and says “you are loved!” We do not need to fear, God is not overwhelmed by our bumbling, crazy ways of trying to feel better. Instead, in Jesus, God puts on this fragile human body, and reaches out with grace and hope and proclaims, “you are loved. you are accepted. Fear not!”