Good morning and Merry Christmas. Ready or not…here we go!
Let me ask you; do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
My mom has invited a small group of church friends over to her place Christmas evening to watch a movie. Can you guess which one by these clues?
It is based on the short story The Greatest Gift, by Philip Van Doren Stern. And it is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
A man has given up his personal dreams in order to help others in his community, but everything goes terribly wrong.
One night he finds himself with thoughts of suicide. He is close to doing more than thinking about it when his guardian angel shows up. His angels shows him all of the lives he touched, and what the world would be like if he did not exist.
The angels name was Clarence, and this old black and white movie has become an American Christmas Classic. "It's a Wonderful Life" debuted in 1946.
It is a wonderful life and, George Bailey had that impossible opportunity to see what life would have been like without him in it.
I confess, this has never been my favorite Christmas movie. I’m not even sure I want to tell you which movie is my favorite. I’ll have to think about that, but the point I am trying to make today, is this; just like the character in the movie, without Jesus in our life, our lives would be extremely different than they are today. And just like in the movie, those extreme differences would not be for the better.
Okay. Okay. My favorite Christmas movie?
On December 9, 1965, at 7:30 pm, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” premiered on CBS. Fifteen million homes tuned in to watch the special, placing it number two only behind the very popular “Bonanza” on NBC.
Later that evening, CBS received the Nielsen ratings showing a 49% share of the market! Numbers unimaginable today!
Honored by both an Emmy and a Peabody award, it has aired every year since its premier! Truly remarkable!
But just one week before this historic event took place, CBS executives previewed the special and were vastly underwhelmed!
“There was just so much wrong with it,” they exclaimed!
There wasn’t enough action, and it moved too slow. The voices were not of adult actors, but that of real kids who were non-actors. They wanted it to include a laugh track, but that, too, was absent. There was jazz music (Vince Guaraldi) in a children’s Christmas special! And to top it off, Linus reads from the Bible!!
“You can’t read from the Bible on network television!” they declared.
Producer Lee Mendelson was told after the screening, “Well, you gave it a good shot. Believe me, we’re big Peanuts’ fans, but maybe it’s better suited to the comic page.”
But, because of the commitment CBS had already made to their sponsor, Coca-Cola, who funded the project, and the fact that the TV guides were already in print, they felt they had no choice but to air the special. “A one-and-done,” they said! (Source: wordblessings.com)
There is much more to this story however.
When Charles Schulz was approached to put the Peanuts gang into animation, he insisted on staying true to the real meaning of Christmas.
When the director was told by Schulz that he was adamant it include Scripture, the director exclaimed, “You can’t do that; this is religion. It just doesn’t go in a cartoon.”
Well it did go in the cartoon and this 25-minute children’s Christmas special is not only my favorite Christmas ‘movie’, but it made history!
If you have never seen the cartoon, or have forgotten, there is a scene that goes like this:
In his search for the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown cries out, “Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus says, “Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about,” and taking center stage, Linus begins:
“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.” Luke 2:8-20 KJV
That little child’s voice has explained the true meaning of Christmas for 57 years, on secular television, and now around the world and on many social media platforms.
My prayer for all of us as we enter this holiday weekend, is that our focus remains on Jesus.
I have often seen yard signs in December that read “Jesus is the reason for the Season.” Truly He is.
“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!” Luke 2:15-20 The Message Bible
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
by Jeanette Stark Friday, December 23, 2022