This is my article for the Owen-Withee Enterprise newspaper for their Christmas edition. It is also the centerpiece for the sermons that I gave at various assisted living and nursing home centers in the weeks before Christmas.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite show about Christmas, and I think it helps to explain God’s love for us. For me, the best symbol of that love is Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.
The tree is just sad. It is one droopy branch that can barely support a single red ball.
It doesn’t compare to the other beautiful trees, especially the ones in your homes.
But that is why I love it. Because it symbolizes how Christ came to us.
Jesus was born to a poor teenage girl and her new husband. They could not find anyplace to stay in Bethlehem, so the stayed with the animals. When the baby was born, his first blanket were strips of rags. His first cradle was a feeding trough.
The angels were so excited about the birth of the Messiah, the Savior, that they had to tell the Good News. But they didn’t go to the important people of the time. They didn’t tell Caesar, or kings and queens. They didn’t tell the leaders of the Temple. They didn’t tell the rich and powerful.
Instead, they went and told shepherds.
I don’t want to offend anyone who works with sheep, but at the time Christ was born, shepherding wasn’t a highly regarded profession. It actually was what you did if you couldn’t do anything else. It also was not a profession where people were well thought of. You spend all day and all night outside. Your sheep go all over the place and onto other people’s land. Plus, you wind up smelling like sheep. For all of these reasons, the shepherds were at the bottom of society in this time.
And that is to whom the hosts of heaven proclaimed the Good News of Great Joy which was for them and for all people.
Because by coming to those on the bottom rung of society’s ladder and who were outside of accepted norms, the angels’ message that the Savior had come for ALL wouldn’t be lost. Had the Good News come to the leaders, the rich and the powerful, they would have thought it was a sign of God’s blessings for them. But the shepherds weren’t expecting to be blessed, so they understood that the message was for them and for everyone.
Then the army of angels told them how to find the newborn baby. He will be wrapped in rags – that is what swaddling clothes are, bands of cloth. He will be lying in a manger – where the animals feed from. That is how the Son of God comes into the world. He is a poor baby, dressed in rags, sleeping in a feeding trough in a barn.
That’s why I love Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. It is like the newborn Christ, unassuming, unappreciated.
At the end of the show, all of Charlie Brown’s friends get together and decorate the little tree, and it transforms into a beautiful sight. Linus says, “I never thought it was a bad tree. It just needed a little love.”
That is the message of Emmanuel, God with us; the Prince of Peace made incarnate. God didn’t think humanity was so bad; we just needed a little love. So He sent His Son to show us what a life lived in love looks like. To show us that a life lived of giving and helping and caring and sharing and loving can do miraculous things. To call us to live lives like that, to live in order to give, not to take.
We are called to share the gifts God has given us with others, especially those whom society has shunned.
We are called to find the droopy little trees in our lives and give them a little love.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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