The holiday question

Pastor Darin Phillips from Oceanview Community Church looks at what Christmas is all about in his Points to Ponder column.

Charlie Brown sighed. “I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about. Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Charlie Brown’s question turns out to be the question at this time of year. We find ourselves running from the school concert to the office Christmas party with a quick stop to grab that last set of lights at Home Hardware. At some point in the holidays, we indeed find ourselves asking, “What is Christmas all about?”

It turns out that there are three main answers.

“Stuff” is the first answer our Western culture supplies.  It is during the festive season that the onslaught of advertisements on TV, print media, radio and websites that strongly encourage us to “buy, buy, buy” can feel a bit overwhelming.

The subtle message is that if you were only to get that new iPad2, NetFlix or that stunning black dress, you would in fact feel happy and content. A few days after Christmas finds a still small voice inside asking, “Shouldn’t I feel more satisfied than I do?”

The second reply to Charlie Brown’s question is the “White Christmas” option. If our holiday celebration can be full of glistening treetops, sleigh bells in the snow, Christmas cards and children listening, then our sentimental meter will top out and all will be well. Even in the crowded living room full of family and friends and eggnog and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, we can still hear that voice inside asking, “Why do I still want more?”

The third rejoinder is the “Linus” option. In response to Charlie Brown’s desperate cry for Christmas clarity, Linus takes the stage and quotes the account of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2 in the Bible. Part of us dares to wonder, “Could a baby born 2,000 years ago in a stable really be what I’m longing for?”

Erwin McManus, the gifted pastor, author and filmmaker, found himself in the Middle East fielding questions from a room entirely full of Muslim men.  Eventually, the audience wanted to know exactly why it would be necessary for God to become human — in other words, “What is Christmas all about?”

Erwin’s response completely confused his translator, “I once met a girl named Kim.” After assuring the translator just to translate what he said, he repeated it.  “I once met a girl named Kim, and I fell in love.”  He continued, “I pursued her with my love and pursued her with my love until I felt my love had captured her heart. So I asked her to be my wife, and she did not say yes.”  Erwin could feel their empathy. “I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with my love until she said yes.” There was huge relief throughout the entire room.

“I did not send my brother, nor did I send a friend.  For in issues of love, you must go yourself. This is the story of God: he pursues you with his love and pursues you with his love, and perhaps you said ‘no.’  And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God in Christ has come.” Erwin remembers something transcendent that connected all of their hearts and souls together in that moment.

So the answer to Charlie Brown’s question turns out to be a person, and his name is Jesus.

It’s up to you whether you respond or not but remember, in matters of love — you must go yourself. 🙂

— Submitted by Pastor Darin Phillips from Oceanview Community Church

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