Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving A Gift That Means Something More

Now who could have a series on Christmas shows and movies, and leave out Charlie Brown?

Not me - so good ol' Charlie is our topic of the day today.

The Charlie Brown Christmas special is a traditional family show watched in households across the country for years and years. And it is a fun reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.

However, in my opinion, it also provides another valuable lesson, in addition to remembering the real reason for the season.

When Charlie Brown was walking with Linus through the snow to go ice skating, Charlie aired his feelings about the holidays to Linus:

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming but I'm not happy. I dont feel the way I'm supposed to feel . I just don't understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents, and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown? Wondering why you used to love the holidays, but now they seem more of a duty than a delight? Do you ever feel like something is missing? Like maybe Christmas is just not what it used to be?

Or maybe you know why your Christmas spirit has waned, but you do not know how to change it. Maybe it does not look the same as it once did, due to children growing up, families changing, divorces, remarriages, or the loss of loved ones, and as a result, you just do not have the same feelings about Christmas anymore.

One of my favorite songs during the holidays is Where Are You Christmas, sung by Faith Hill. It fits in perfect with the feelings that Charlie Brown was feeling as he struggled with his emotions about Christmas. Here are some of the lyrics to that song:

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Just like is described in this song, Charlie Brown knew in his heart that something was missing.

What he did know, was that he longed for the joy and enthusiastic feelings that other people seemed to feel around the holidays. He wanted to know what had changed and where Christmas had gone. He just wanted to enjoy Christmas again.

You see, Charlie knew there had to be "something more" (just like the Grinch!). He just did not know what that "something more" was.

Through a simple conversation with Linus, Charlie Brown discovered what was missing - the real meaning of Christmas. Linus helped him understand the true reason for the season. Linus gave Christmas back to Charlie.

Little Linus is a shining example of how one person standing up for the real meaning of the season, can affect the hearts of many, and help them discover Christmas.

One voice for Christ can have far reaching impact, and can bring Christmas back to peoples hearts in more ways than one.

Since Linus was not ashamed to admit that Christmas was about the Christ, all the other children came to know about Him as well, or at least were willing to be open about their own beliefs. In a way, they all discovered that "something more".

In todays society, Christmas is under attack from every angle. Our culture and non-believers work very hard to keep people from discovering that "something more" for themselves. Satan is at work trying his best to keep people from celebrating with their hearts and not their pocketbooks.

In fact, on the surface, it may sometimes seem like Satan has the upper hand when it comes to who is winning the battle over Christmas:

- our children cannot pray in schools;
- they are not allowed to talk about Jesus, reenact the manger scene in school plays, or sing Christmas hymns whose lyrics talk about anything besides snow men and holly trees;
- television airs the 25 days of Christmas, with countless movies about reindeer's, Santa's offspring taking over the reins, fancy toy workshops, and various forms of scrooges, as opposed to movies about the nativity or the birth of Jesus.
- retail stores and businesses display "happy holiday" banners instead of Merry Christmas.
- employees are afraid, or even forbidden, to portray religious items in their offices for fear of retribution or disciplinary action.

Because of all this non-Christmas pressure, it is no wonder that even Christians are often hesitant to wish someone Merry Christmas.

But the truth is, that even though the world tries hard to squelch the real meaning of Christmas; and even though Christians are pressured every day to go along with the status quo; and even though our society wants to force Christians to respect and accept the beliefs of everyone else above our own....

We have the power within us to hold onto Christmas. We have Christ. And we are called to be proud and stand up for Him in unity.

In 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (NIV)

As long as we carry the real reason for the season in our hearts and minds, Christmas will never go away, and the stronger we are in our faith, the stronger we will be in our witness.

Lets be too proud of our Jesus this Christmas to keep His gift of life to ourselves.

Through living our faith out loud, we can give the gift of Christmas meaning to someone who is not even aware that they were searching for it.

Romans 1:16-17 It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives." (The Message)

(email subscribers will need to visit my homepage to view the movie clip)

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