We may know the real purpose of Christmas, but it sometimes feels as if consumerism has stolen it.
Starting before Thanksgiving, homes and businesses are encased with festive outdoor lighting, which may cause some to see as merely the commercialism of the season. Even Charlie Brown lamented the premature season celebration and protested Snoopy’s light display.
We can take a different take on the lighting, however, as we see in Scripture, where Christ is referred to often as the “Light of the World.” Mark Noon, an assistant professor at Bloomsburg University, wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that many consider Linsus’ quote from the Bible the greatest minute in animation history. Linus answers Charlie Brown’s plea to hear from anyone who knows the meaning of Christmas as proclaimed from the Gospel of Luke:
“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.”
When we look at the many displays of lights, think of the physical setting in which the Nativity took place — a starry sky wrapped in silence, a landscape of mountains and streams, sheep and shepherds and a primitive stable.
Despite the glow of lights along our streets today, many face a terrible struggle with loneliness and loss during the season. One way to turn darkness into light is to take the time to visit people who may be prone to this loneliness. They may be friends, neighbors or relatives we haven’t contacted in a long time, nursing home residents or someone your parish might know of who could benefit from a phone call or visit.
In Charles Schultz’s classic animated feature, Linus reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas, a proclamation that should prompt us to be filled with joy in anticipation of what is coming. This time of preparation directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.