The Christmas Story
The holiday season is a time of wonder, beauty, celebration, and spending time with the people you love. But it can rapidly become stressful, as well. There’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect gift, make the perfect feast, create the perfect Christmas memories for your family. Who hasn’t stood, sweating in a check-out lane, too close for comfort to Christmas Eve, grumbling about the season?
It happens to the best of us, and it even happened to Charlie Brown. In the animated television special from 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown feels the same frustration. The “commercialism” of Christmas, a failed play, and an embarrassing Christmas tree all builds up inside until he finally blows up, shouting out “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about!?”
And then Charlie’s friend Linus steps up, takes center stage, and recites:
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.
Linus is quoting from the Bible, specifically Luke 2:8-14 (read as “the book of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14”), also known as the “Annunciation to the Shepherds.”
In a nutshell, this passage describes “the Christmas story”: a baby who would grow up to be Savior was born in a manger; angels appeared to shepherds to proclaim this good news and tell them how to find the baby (by following a star); and the angels filled the sky, praising and worshiping God.
The Christian religion recognizes Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God, and lord and savior of mankind.
What does that mean? The Christian doctrine states that although Jesus is divine, he came to earth (born in the humblest of places, as a baby in a barn), to be a man and live among men and women, to teach about God and heaven, to be an example to people, to live a perfect life, and to be a sacrifice for the sins of man. After many years as a teacher, leader, and prophet, he was crucified and died on the cross. Three days later, he rose from the dead, showing that he conquered death and thus, can provide people with eternal life. According to the Bible, all it takes is believing.
So that is the Christian view of Christmas: it’s even more than presents, goodies, carols, and being together with family! It’s also Jesus’ birthday party!
As Linus puts it, “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
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