As a boy, I looked forward to all the Charlie Brown specials the way an astronomer looks for the return of comets.
Charles Schulz knew how to pull empathy from us as we rooted for Charlie Brown to win at least one baseball game. This natural born loser had children all over the country begging him not to trust his sister as she held the football for him to kick.
We hoped along with him that he’d get at least one valentine on Valentine’s day or one card for Christmas. While we knew no Great Pumpkin would appear on Halloween, we waited with him and Linus in the pumpkin patch anyway. It was a cartoon, after all. Anything can happen in a cartoon.
But the Charlie Brown Christmas TV Show was received with great excitement because I knew Christmas Day was near.
Charlie Brown was a gift to me. Charlie Brown was a worrier. I could identify with that because there were some things that I fretted over as a child, evidenced by the fingernails that I kept bit to the nubs and the nervous stomach that plagued me.
You might say Charlie Brown was a worrier with good reason. Rarely did things turn out well for him.
While Lucy put up a good front, she seemed to be infected with this problem, too. Lucy longed for someone to call her beautiful and when Schroeder didn’t, she just got angry and bullied him. She didn’t have much true joy. It must mostly a front.
Compare their personalities to Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy. Charlie Brown didn’t understand him and Lucy hated him. His carefree and happy, smiley attitude got on Lucy’s nerves.
She says, “How can you be happy when you don’t know what this year has in store for you? Don’t you worry about all the things that can happen?”
Snoopy becomes subdued. He begins to walk away with a look of dread, much to the approval of Lucy.
“That’s better,” she says. “Live in dread and fear. Be sensible.”
But Snoopy cannot live this way. Though only a foolish dog, he seems to understand more about life and faith than Lucy or Charlie Brown. So much to Lucy’s chagrin, once again he bursts out in dancing, laughter, and merriment.” We need more Snoopy’s in this world.
Of course, I could paint you a picture of a world so dark and bleak that when you left, some of you would think Lucy was a prophet. Our lives often reflect the world we want to see.
On any given day I may be called on minister to people who are worried about health, bills, their future, retirement, the stock market, children, parents, marriage, addiction, their purpose in life, depression, a sense of purpose, their job, school, being bullied, infertility, escaping their past, war, understanding God, suffering, death, the state of our nation or their souls.
Suffering is real.
For everything we find to worry about we find something we must find something or someone to help us cope. Some things are helpful and some things are not.
To help him cope, Linus carried his blanket with him wherever he went. His blanket represented security. It seemed to be attached to him like a third arm.
In the Charlie Brown Christmas Show, when Linus stepped out onto the stage to tell Charlie Brown the real meaning of Christmas, and he quoted the angel that appeared to the shepherds as they were keeping watch over their flock by night, he dropped his blanket when he said, “Fear not.”
He spreads his hands and he continues to quote the text from Luke’s gospel. “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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Schulz drew two markings in Linus’ hands that some have said he meant to represent the piercings of Jesus’ hands.
We are reminded that the child that was born in Bethlehem is the man that was crucified and rose from the grave.
This is the Son of God who is famous for these words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6.
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In 1945 the Second World War ended with the surrender of Germany in May and Japan in September. Sacrifices were being made abroad and at home.
One year earlier Bill Massey of Nicholson and Marie Staton of Jefferson were married. Bill took Marie to the country to live. The next year they were blessed with their first child, Libby.
However, Marie had to bottle feed her and that meant store-bought milk at a time when milk was being rationed.
To make matters worse, they ran out of money. Marie, a self-confessed worrier, asked Bill what they were going to do. Bill confessed that he wasn’t sure but he wasn’t going to get worked up about it because he had faith that God was going to take care of their needs.
Marie tried to get Bill to borrow money from her father but he said, “No, this is our responsibility.”
They came to Jefferson and Bill left Marie and Libby with her parents on Martin Street and he went into town, again reminding her that God would take care of them.
Bill always had a saying when Marie started to worry, “Marie, if you can convince me how worrying helps then I’ll worry with you.”
When Bill got to town a man that knew him came up to him and said, “Bill, I’m glad to see you. I need to repay you that money you let me borrow a while back.” The man owed Bill $40.
Bill went down to the grocery store owned by Mr. Kessler to inquire about purchasing some milk for their baby. Mr. Kessler said, “Bill, if you will pull around back, I’ll sell you a whole case.”
When he returned home with a case of milk and money in his pocket, Marie was stunned and that story became a part of the family’s history, just as the ram caught in the thicket became a part of the story of Abraham and Isaac.
After the ram caught in the thicket was used as the sacrifice on the mountain by Abraham, he called the mountain, “Jehovah Jirah,” which means, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
After Linus finished telling Charlie Brown the real meaning of Christmas, he picked his blanket back up.
We are a lot like him, you know. We all have those things that surround us with comfort that we are willing to let go of for a while but we keep picking back up, like worry and material things, because they comfort us, but don’t bring peace.
This Christmas I remind you that the things of this world are passing away so we need to latch onto righteousness and the Kingdom of God.
The nail prints in the hands of Jesus are the only manmade thing I know of that will be in heaven.
So, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and you will discover that the things you hold onto for security don’t matter so much. If you want the peace that Christ offers, reach to the heavens and remember the words, “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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Then, you will discover that the things you hold onto for security don’t matter so much.
When we do that, we can be a lot more like Snoopy. The joy of the Lord will be our strength. He will become our Jehovah Jirah.