What a joy to watch the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" last night on ABC. One television critic called the program one that "never gets old." Perhaps it's a timeless program because it features a timeless message.
Yes, the message. Charlie Brown wants to know what is the meaning of Christmas. He can't believe Christmas is all about glitz and glitter, about the fake and the artificial. It can't be about aluminum Christmas trees and prizes for the best decorated house (or dog house!), Charlie reasons.
Linus has the answer Charlie Brown is seeking. And in a day and time in which the world seems determined to bury the answer, Linus proclaims it with all confidence. "For born to you this day in the city of David is a Savior; He is Christ the Lord."
Following that good news message the program ends with Charlie and his friends singing, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Although I've sung the hymn more times than I can remember, this time around I was struck by the line, "God and sinners reconciled."
This is the reason for the birth of Bethlehem's child. Sin separates people from God. Since all people are sinners, all need to be reconciled to our Maker and Creator. We needed to be reconciled to God. The problem - we can't do it ourselves.
Who is the person who works to help bring people back together? A counselor. A counselor helps people work out their differences.
That's Jesus. Remember Isaiah's prophecy in chapter nine? "And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Jesus reconciles a perfect God with perfectly imperfect sinners. Our situation was hopeless. Jesus brings hope. Like Adam and Eve we were the cast-out ones. Now we can approach God. He calls us His own. We belong to His kingdom. All because of the forgiveness and new life that Jesus has worked for us.
I pray that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" goes on for another 50 years. In a world filled with bad news this is one program that delivers the good news that we can use. We are reconciled to God! Amen!