Anyone who’s watched the classic Peanuts story A Charlie Brown Christmas has heard about the birth of Jesus, our Savior. In the most well-known scene, Charlie Brown laments, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Then Linus recites Luke 2 before concluding, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
At one time, most of America would have agreed with Linus and his perspective on Christmas. But times have changed.
A poll by Pew Research found…
“Today, 66 percent say they believe Jesus was born to a virgin, down from 73 percent in 2014. Likewise, 68 percent of U.S. adults now say they believe that the wise men were guided by a star and brought gifts for baby Jesus, down from 75 percent.
And there are similar declines in the shares of Americans who believe that Jesus’ birth was heralded by an angel of the Lord and that Jesus was laid in a manger as an infant. Overall, 57 percent of Americans now believe in all four of these elements of the Christmas story, down from 65 percent in 2014” (Source).
Why is that?
Well, a big reason for the decline is the increase in others, especially the rise of the religious “Nones.” These people consider themselves unaffiliated with any religion. The majority are in the younger generations, specifically Millennials. In addition to leaving organized religion and subsequently churches, many also leave behind the beliefs of the faith they grew up with. And that includes the Christmas story.
So very much has been written about Millennials. And while I, too, have my thoughts, this post really isn’t about this. Rather, I hope this encourages us to really consider the generation we’re currently raising in light of this information.
That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown (and modern-day listeners)
Let’s ask ourselves 3 questions:
1. Are we presenting the Christmas story as a fairy tale or a significant part of church history?
Our kids hear fairy tales all the time. In fairy tales (or superhero stories or fantasy stories), magical and impossible things happen. Things like a virgin giving birth to a baby and angels appearing in the sky.
How we tell the story matters. If we want children to understand that these events have been passed down from people who experienced them, from one generation of Christians to another, for more than 2,000 years, we have to tell the story that way.
We have to tell kids no one made this story up or dreamed it. Actual people lived the events, told other people about it, who recorded their stories and then shared them with us. And that’s way, way different from a fairy tale and makes our God way, way bigger than a story.
An example of this is how we present the story. We tell it as though it actually happened on December 25 in the snow with a glowing Christmas tree in the background of the cozy stable and wise men by Mary’s side. Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration, of course. But you get the idea.
God’s story of coming to earth as a poor baby to an unwed mother in a place where animals were kept and first visited by the outcasts of society is grand enough; let’s tell them what Mary told John and John recorded for us and what the disciples told Luke and he wrote it down for Theophilus and for all of us. Let’s give them the truth because the truth is incredibly beautiful, raw and real.