How Linus Simultaneously Saved and Ruined Christmas

Angels speak to shepards in the field on Christmas morning

Peanut’s Christmas – Boomer Classic With Mixed Results

As baby boomer kids, there were a few Christmas staples that were must-see TV, at least in those early years before Home Alone and Elf. The Rudolph stop-action classic, along with it’s cousin, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. For our animated delight, Frosty the Snowman was a barely tolerable filler until a Charlie Brown Christmas came on.

As we got older, our focus moved from Charlie Brown’s sad little tree and our fascination with the wacky dancing, to Linus’ pivotal and stirring recitation of Luke chapter 2. His quirky, quite, and calming tone was the voice of reason that is still the primary hook and anchor in this Christmas classic. But…did his tranquil and muted demeanor do a disservice to a generation of kids?

Did Linus Ruin Christmas?

In one sense, Linus saved Christmas. His meaningful oration set the tone in the show for what proved to be a heartfelt finale. Speaking of that singing finale, I have a great story about a VHS tape, an ice cream cone, and the final scene of that cartoon…perhaps another time.

However, I think Linus’ speech also set the tone for an entire generation of believers who, in their heads…could never hear the Christmas story any other way. My focus in particular is on versus 10 & 11.

10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2, 10-11 ESV

A Great Joy!

I don’t think we fully grasp, or perhaps I just imagine it…but these Angels weren’t quietly discussing this sudden event, they were yelling from the sky! Behold, I bring you news of great joy…!!!! (exclamation marks mine). The Jews had waited over 400 years for this event…though they certainly didn’t realize yet what had occurred. The angels and hosts of heaven had anticipated this for thousands of years and understood what a GREAT JOY had just been unleashed upon the earth. If you don’t think the shepherds weren’t impressed, see what they did next:

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 

Luke 2, 15-16 ESV

Note that scripture doesn’t indicate that they took their sweet time and drove their herds of sheep into Bethlehem with them. Rather it says they went with haste. They probably left all those sheep behind or put some shepherd probie in charge of them all and said, “Don’t get eaten, we’re leaving”. Do you think they would have “went with haste” if the angels showed up quietly, casually mentioning that there was a baby born and yeah it’s kind of a big deal, a great joy, savior of the world….yada, yada?

I don’t. I think in today’s vernacular what the shepherds would have heard was a multitude of angels shouting; OMG!!!, you are not going to freaking believe what just happened!! Finally, our savior has come and he is IN THE HOUSE…RIGHT NOW!! After all this time, you are SAVED! SAVED!! This is such a GREAT JOY!!

I Still Love Linus

Don’t get me wrong, I love Linus. His Luke 2 might be the only gospel some folks ever hear. In fact it’s very likely the Lord’s doing in getting that piece of scripture into public TV to be seen millions and millions of times for the next 40+ years. The difference today is that I read Luke 2 with a different hear, retraining myself not to hear it in Linus’ voice, but in those of the angles bubbling over with excitement and joy…loudly.

%d bloggers like this: