We get treated to traditional Christmas symbols and customs every December:
- "How the Grinch Stole Christmas": A story of Congress
- "Frosty the Snowman": A Tale of Climate Change - Old thumpity-thump- thump gets melted by carbon gas emissions
- "Miracle on 34th Street": Macy's gives away Play Stations on Christmas Eve - of course, a work of fiction
- "A Christmas Carol": Renamed "Non-specific Religious Holiday Song," a story that ends with politically-correct Height-Challenged Tim saying, "Non-specific Deity give us carbon gas-free blessings for everyone"
- "A Charlie Brown Christmas": About bullying that occurs with children's Christmas play preparations
That last one features Linus, the neurotic kid that obsesses over a yard of outing flannel, taking the stage to recite Luke 2:8-14 as the explanation to Charlie Brown about what Christmas "is all about."
I read an article online by Ronald P. Hutchcraft - "What Linus and I missed in the manger" that gives a fascinating slant on the message of the angels that bears reading. I won't try to tell what it says or quote it - just read it for some fascinating information about the meaning of what the angels announced to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. Great reading.
What I can relate here is that Christmas is a story of "womb to tomb:" Jesus was born in a cave that didn't look at all like what you see in Nativity crèches you see at Christmas decorating homes and churches. He was laid in a manger which didn't look like the nice wooden stands you see in those same crèches. He was wrapped in "swaddling clothes" - strips of cloth assumed in those days to help quick bone formation in the newborn child, and to keep Him warm - and placed in a stone trough (like I have pictured here).
Easter is the story of another cave - how Jesus Who had left Heaven for one cave arose from the dead in a tomb fashioned from another cave - "womb to tomb."
I love the fact that Charles Schulz stuck to his guns with the CBS television network back in 1965 to have the Luke 2:8-14 text (read by Linus standing on stage in a spotlight) that it must stay in all subsequent showings forever when the special would air, despite fears by the network that it would offend some viewers. It's a Christian holiday, so if you are going to show a special on TV about it, it would be offensive not to include it. But Linus doesn't go far enough with the story (well, it's a half-hour cartoon, so you don't exactly have several hours to go into a theological treatise to a bunch of animated children standing around). But I really want to emphasize this "womb-to-tomb" narrative. It's summed up in Scripture thus: "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory."
He was seen and proclaimed to shepherds that night (don't get caught up in that "you're pagan if you believe it happened in December and Christmas trees are pagan and Christmas carols are pagan and all you have to do is write 'Satan' which is only a slight variance from 'Santa' and all that other stuff). He was born and it was a womb-to-tomb progress from the cave He came from Heaven into in Bethlehem to the cave in the garden from the Resurrection. Christmas is like the lyrics in Larry Norman's song "The Day A Child Appeared:"
"Little children please remember
Why we celebrate December
It's much more than Santa Claus.
But you're right about the gift and tree
A gift of life at Calvary"
From the gift to the tree at Calvary to a gift of life.
So what Linus says to Charlie Brown is right as far as he goes. But it's an end to another end to a beginning.
And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Blessings from here to eternity,