Blog #315: Putting Christ into Christmastime Conversations

John Cline

Speaking about Jesus is important for Christians to do. In our just completed sermon series through the Letter to the Hebrews, that letter ends with the author encouraging the readers to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) The Hebrew Christian community, it seems, had been misled into believing “strange” or false teachings. One way to counter that was to lift up Jesus, to talk about him. Why? Because those false teachers had diminished Jesus and, in doing so, had misled people into believing incorrect theology. So, by taking a huge gulp, and sucking up the courage to be a witness for Jesus, the Hebrews could be a marvellous witness to him and to his power and to the truth about him. But it would take courage and determination to do so. In many ways, our society is similar to that first century one, with lots of false teachings abounding, with many of them being about Jesus and his role in our lives. It takes courage and conviction to bring up Jesus but that is something we need to do, especially when the opportunity to do so presents itself.

Actor Tim Allen said he fought to put Christ back into Christmas for the new Disney+ limited series “The Santa Clauses”, in which he reprises his role of Santa Claus from the original trilogy of movies. Speaking at a recent event held by The Wrap, Tim Allen revealed that religion will be a major theme in the new six-part series that began streaming last week. “It originally had a lot of otherworldly characters and ghosts and goblins. I said, ‘No, this is Christ-mas. Its Christ-mas. It literally is a religious holiday,’” he said. “We don’t have to blow trumpets, but I do want you to acknowledge it — that’s what this is about. If you want to get into Santa Claus, you’re gonna have to go back to history, and it’s all about religion.” Allen’s argument won the day and the show’s writers found a “brilliant way” to fit the importance of Jesus into the Santa Claus/Christmas plot.

55 years after it first aired in 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” remains one of the most beloved TV specials of the season among people of faith, primarily due to Linus’ bold recitation of the gospel message. But that famous scene was added to the special over the objections of the producer and the animator, who believed that Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz had crossed a line in wanting Linus to recite the Bible. The producer later admitted that he had protested to Schulz. “I said, ‘Sparky (which was Schulz’s nickname), this is religion. It just doesn’t go in a cartoon.’” “He looked at me very coldly and said, ‘Bill, if we don’t do it, who will? We can do it.’ He was right. That’s been the most commented-on little sequences of that show – Linus telling the true meaning of Christmas.” Schulz had said, “Look, if we’re going to do this, we should talk about what Christmas is all about, not just do a cartoon with no particular point of view.” And, thus, in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” we follow Charlie Brown as he fights the holiday’s commercialism and searches for the true meaning of Christmas. In the show’s final moments, Linus takes center stage at a play practice and recites Luke 2:8-14, concluding with the proclamation, “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Proclaim Christ this Christmas!

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