One of the songs that popped up on a Christmas station came from the original soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi’s score is simple and brilliant. Listening to the vocal version of “Christmas Time Is Here” brought back some wonderful Christmas memories.
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my annual delights. (Watch it online at ABC.com) In many ways Christmas has become an economic and not a religious holiday. One of the most powerful reminders of the message of Christmas came from the genius of the late Charles Schultz. One simple and elegant scene captures it all. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus recites the following passage from the King James version of the Bible.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And then Linus turns and says this powerful line to Charlie Brown.
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Without a doubt this show would be different if produced today. A documentary produced about the making of the show revealed that Charles Schultz received substantial push back even in 1965 from network officials who did not want to have the Christmas story read from the Bible. But Schultz demanded it be included with this simple declaration.
“If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”
And for over fifty years Charles Schultz has had a hand in telling millions of viewers the true meaning of Christmas. The lyrics from “Christmas Time Is Here” continue with this wish.
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Charlie Brown’s heart was changed by the simple story of Christmas. An often overlooked moment in the show is particularly relevant this Christmas. Fans of the show know that Linus is permanently attached to his blanket. His dependence on it for comfort is ridiculed by sister Lucy and others. He never lets his blanket go. But while Linus is reading the Biblical account a remarkable and subtle action occurs. He reads these words from the angel. (About 38 seconds into the video)
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not”
At that point Linus simply drops his blanket as a sign that the birth of Jesus overcomes fears and becomes our comfort. Brilliant.
There is a lot of anger and strife this Christmas season. It is easy to say or think things that do not reflect the grace that I have received as a follower of Christ. Linus would remind all of us that loving others and especially those who disagree with us is also what Christmas is all about.