Good Grief, It’s Christmas Charlie Brown!
As Christmas quickly approaches, I don’t feel ready for the holiday season. While many people enjoy the holiday cheer and the magic of the Christmas season, I sometimes resonate with Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, not enjoying the Christmas season because the true Christmas story gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. He critiques the culture of materialism and consumerism around him as Snoopy tries to win the Christmas light contest, and all the other kids try to obtain more things. Yet, Charlie Brown is compassionate to the little, worn-down Christmas tree, and wants to take it home, even to the ridicule of the other children. My favorite part of the movie is when Charlie Brown, in ultimate frustration, asks about the true meaning of Christmas, and Linus retells the true Christmas story of Christ’s birth from Luke. It’s in that moment, that Charlie Brown and his friends are re-oriented to the true meaning of Christmas. After this happens, the community comes around Charlie Brown, decorates his Christmas tree, and start singing carols to show that he is not alone.
While Christmas time can be a time of fun and family gatherings, Christmas also can be a time of pain and loneliness for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, or for those who are not able to come home for the holidays. In the past few weeks, I have heard of many people who have passed away, and this time marks a time of loss for their families. The holidays remind them of people who have passed, who no longer can join in the celebrations, and they miss the empty places that their presence used to fill.
In these times, I’m reminded that Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ’s incarnation, and how Christ’s presence with us, even in the pain, is a great comfort. In his full humanity, Christ fully understands the full range of emotions, as he understands our happiness and sadness. He was a man of sorrows, and well-acquainted with grief. He does not leave us alone in the pain, but is truly Emmanuel – “God with us.” I’m truly grateful for the reality of Christ’s incarnation, and how his incarnation brings us hope and consolation.
As the family of God, I also wonder how we can incarnate Christ’s presence to one another, as we become God’s hands and feet, and vehicles of God’s love to one another. We need to come alongside one another, and bear one another’s burdens, especially in the difficult times. There’s a need to encourage one another and inspire one another to hope, to help each other see God’s presence even in the midst of hardship. There is great comfort in knowing that we are not alone as we live in community with one another, and show the true meaning of Christmas by living out the reality of the love of Christ with one another.