A meme going around on Facebook caught my attention. It involved the Peanuts Christmas cartoon show that is 51 years old this year, A Charlie Brown Christmas. The half hour program regularly plays in December prior to the Christmas holiday, and shows Charlie Brown searching for the true meaning of Christmas. As Charlie Brown becomes more and more frustrated by the materialism clouding the true meaning of the holiday, he finally yells out,
Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?
Linus says that he knows, and walks to the center of the stage where the play practice is being held. He recites verbatim to tthe scripture from Luke 2:8-13 KJV,
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
From the same link above, we read,
Schulz’s main goal for a Peanuts-based Christmas special was to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. He desired to juxtapose this theme with interspersed shots of snow and ice-skating, perhaps inspired by his own childhood growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also created the idea for the school play, and mixing jazz with traditional Christmas carols. Schulz was adamant about Linus’ reading of the Bible, despite Mendelson and Melendez’s concerns that religion was a controversial topic, especially on television. Melendez recalled Schulz turned to him and remarked “If we don’t do it, who will?”. Schulz’s estimation proved accurate, and in the 1960s, less than 9 percent of television Christmas episodes contained a substantive reference to religion, according to university researcher Stephen Lind. It could also be worth noting that the Linus’s recitation of Scripture was incorporated in such a way that it forms the climax of the film, thus making it impossible to successfully edit out.
Here’s the scene,
But wait, there’s more. As many times as you have seen the show, and as much as you know for a fact that Linus never goes anywhere without his blanket in his hand, when you watch the scene carefully, you notice that at the point in the scripture when Linus says ‘Fear not!’ HE DROPS HIS BLANKET.
In December 2015 Jason Soroski at The Gospel Coalition wrote about the moment, here:
Just Drop the Blanket.
The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to him instead.
This time of year is so precious. We pray and praise the Lord for His incarnation. The babe in the manger, born in a stable among the animals, and yet myriad angels announced his arrival to the shepherds. It’s a scene that brings tears. Hallelujah.
The Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah always seemed to me to be firmly in the realm of sad, yet seemed like it should be joyful. Like it’s on the verge of joy but always in the dark. The group Cloverton has changed the lyrics to praise and honor Jesus. Now Hallelujah is sweetly joyful. As my friend Tara said,
I’ve always loved the song, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. But his was a broken hallelujah. In this one, the hallelujah isn’t broken and it’s the most beautiful version I’ve ever heard.
Hallelujah, the Lord is come.