A most profound experience happened to me when I was living as a single woman. I’m remarried now, but seemingly a lifetime ago, I was married to my wonderful husband, Brion, for 30 years. He passed away from a rare disease, and I lived as a widow for over 6 years.
During that season of life, I learned a lot about my heart’s devotions. One of the many things I longed for, understandably, was human companionship, especially in the evenings when life was very quiet and still. I forever ached for all the things women love . . . conversation, romance, friendship, touch, laughter, and love.
“Love Has A Name” Christmas Eve 2015
Does anyone know the true meaning of Christmas? That memorable line was queried by our Peanuts’ pal, Charlie Brown, in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Although this beloved Christmas program has aired on television for 48 straight seasons, it almost never made it to television. Charles Schulz’s pilot for Good Grief Charlie Brown was rejected by all the major networks. Charlie Brown’s future was looking grim, when Coca Cola approached Schulz about sponsoring a Christmas special.
So, on a shoestring budget and within an incredibly short timeframe, Schulz worked in conjunction with producer and director Bill Melendez to create what is now widely recognized as a timeless Christmas classic. Before the short film aired, it endured a litany of criticism for both its stylistic methods and content. CBS network producers protested the choppy animation, the absence of laugh tracks, and the integration of jazz music in a children’s program. Furthermore, they disapproved of voiceovers that recorded kids, rather than adults. However, their chief issue was with the segment that featured Linus quoting the birth of Christ from the book of Luke. Executives assumed their audience would not want to sit through a program that cites scripture from the Bible. Yet Charles Schulz battled with executives to preserve his vision for the movie, arguing, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” When the network viewed the final production, they were convinced the half-hour special would flop and explained to Schulz, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on December 9th in 1965. It was watched by nearly 15 million people and was ranked number two that week in the ratings. It has since won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award for best children’s programming. Can you imagine if Charles Schulz had listened to the network producers and allowed them to secularize the film’s content? Instead, Schulz defended the script’s integration of the truth about Christ’s birth, and viewers responded, as evidenced by the program’s climbing popularity. While the Peanuts characters are amusing to watch, the most meaningful part of A Charlie Brown Christmas is the scene in which Linus reads from the Gospel of Luke to reveal the true meaning of Christmas.
Want to hear more about the true meaning of Christmas? Come out to Reliance Church’s Christmas Eve service at Linfield Christian School tonight at 4pm & 6pm! https://www.reliancechurch.org/to-save-us-all-christmas-2013/
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” – Luke 1:26-35 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Open door for those behind you all day long and tell them, “God bless you.”
“Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’” – Isaiah 7:10-14 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Pick up trash/litter anytime you see it today.
“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.” – Luke 1:67-80 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Send thank you cards to the police and fire stations.
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has that name.’ Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.” – Luke 1:57-66 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Give flowers to someone you want to feel appreciated today.
“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” – Luke 1:46-56 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Donate needed items to the local homeless shelter.
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” – Luke 1:39-45 (NIV)
a-T.A.C.K. (Thoughtful Acts of Christmas Kindness): Write thank you notes to your teachers or Community servant.