By Rev. Amanda Henderson Bolton
Special to The Guardian
My favourite Christmas moment is Christmas Eve when we gather from across this city and the wider world to sit for a moment in joy and wonder, as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
That moment for me is what makes Christmas. What makes Christmas for you? What tradition do you look forward to the most?
Another favorite tradition growing up in our family was Christmas movies. My favourite is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. For over 50 years people have watched Charlie Brown search for the meaning of Christmas. It is hard to believe that in a world where technology is outdated the moment we buy it, and the next “new big thing” changes every week that this simple Christmas story has endured. Something about Charlie Brown is timeless, and maybe it is because we can identify with him. Maybe we, too, have thrown our arms in the air and yelled, “Everything I do turns into a disaster, I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about. Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
An author recently wrote about Linus’s response to Charlie Brown’s question. He said, “Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.
Until this moment when he simply drops it.
In that climactic scene when Linus shares "what Christmas is all about," he lets go of his security blanket.
Linus responds, “Sure Charlie Brown I can tell you what Christmas is all about. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace and goodwill toward all men.’ That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
I had never noticed in all my years of watching, the moment when Linus drops his trusted blue blanket, with the words “Do not fear.” What Charles Schultz is so subtly reminding us of is that the birth of Jesus separates us from our fears. In Him our hope is found, our joy is made complete and we are home.
My prayer for all us this Christmas, as we gather with friends and family, as we share together, is that we may drop the fears that cripple us in our lives and seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found — in a manger in Bethlehem.
Rev. Amanda Henderson-Bolton is minister at St. James Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.