Take the ubiquitous Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s not an exaggeration to say the soundtrack is the best attribute of it. Recall how Charlie Brown confesses he doesn’t know what Christmas is all about. And then Linus tells Luke’s story of Christ’s birth in the little town of Bethlehem. Cue Christians around the world cheering in response as Linus approaches Charlie and says, “That is the what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
Most of us- we do Linus every year in church. We say Jesus is the reason for the season and we retell the nativity story of his birth.
Rehearsing the Christmas isn’t Gospel. What happened isn’t the same as why it matters.
As Paul Koch says, Linus’ story isn’t what Christmas is all about because it lacks the “For You” of the Gospel.
Christmas is about human sin and condemnation. Christmas is about the weakness of the flesh. Christmas is about a God who out of his divine mercy and goodness sent his only begotten Son as a substitute for you. For your failures and doubts and fears. For your selfishness and pride, our Lord was born in the little town of Bethlehem.
Christmas isn’t about just telling the story. It is about proclaiming the Good News.
It is about telling Charlie Brown that though his friends are a bunch of jerks and he feels alone and filled with shame and guilt he is not outside the love of God.
It is to tell him that in Christ alone there is forgiveness, life, and salvation. In fact, because of that incarnation, because of the birth of Christ, Linus can now say to Charlie Brown, “You are loved. You are forgiven. You are a child of God.
And you, yes you, are the reason for the season!”
Keller gets right what Linus and the rest of us get wrong.
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