Don’t you just love this time of year? As I’m sitting in my office typing these words, it’s sunny outside … after more snow!
Some people would call it a “winter wonderland.” I don’t know about those people, but I hate winter.
It’s cold, driving is a nightmare, and it takes half an hour to dress. And did I mention the cold?
About the only good thing about this time of year is Christmas: decorations, holly and ivy, presents, carols, A Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas, turkey, family (well, that one is iffy), and even during COVID, shopping, crowds at Wal-Mart, and interminable ads.
As soon as Thanksgiving ticks by on the calendars, the decorations go up in the Canadian Tire, the carols pipe incessantly through the speakers, and I become acutely aware of a disturbing absence of funding.
Even this good thing has been tainted by crass commercialization. Charlie Brown was surely right in asking, voice quivering with barely restrained emotion, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is really all about?!”
Well, don’t kid yourself. The “commercialization” of Christmas has been the subject of criticism since before Santa Claus climbed down his first chimney and crammed leftover cookies down his gullet.
In 1725, an Anglican minister, aghast at “dancing, public drunkenness and feasting to excess” lamented that the way most people behaved at Christmas “was a scandal to religion and a celebration of wickedness.”
It seems that Charlie Brown’s question has been asked for some time.
“Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is really all about?”
At the risk of being “religious”, listen to what Frederick Buechner writes regarding God and Christmas:
“Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If the holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break into and re-create the human heart, because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully” (The Hungering Dark).
Seventeen centuries ago, the chief of clergy in Alexandria, Egypt (then a Christian city) summed up God’s attitude toward us as revealed in Christmas:
“He became what we are that he might make us what he is.”
Two thousand years ago, in a stable in a backwater town, that’s what happened.
So Charlie Brown, for Christians around the world, that’s what Christmas is really all about.