I sure do wish the President hadn't preempted A Charlie Brown Christmas this week. As Mr. Schultz said, "If we don't tell people the true meaning of Christmas, who will?" Charlie Brown had the right idea. Charged with the task of obtaining a tree for the Christmas play, good ole’ Chuck, tired of all the commercialism, selects the least impressive tree in the entire lot. It also happens to be the only live tree. Charlie Brown knew that the pink aluminum tree Lucy wanted, for all its size and sparkle, would never live or grow or bear any fruit, and he just didn’t feel right about that.
Another Charles, Mr. Wesley, also appreciated the hidden glory in a tiny Christmas life. He painted his classic carol, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” upon the backdrop of the humility of the Almighty Christ. Christ by highest heaven adored was pleased to dwell as man among men. Mildly laying His glory by, he may have been the smallest of men on earth, but he was also, like Charlie’s tree, the only one living. In fact, Charles Wesley’s original hymn ends with a verse thanking God for the reinstatement of life to man by the Second Adam.
Wesley’s original wording was, “Hark, how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of Kings!” Don’t worry; I had to look it up too. Welkin is the vault of Heaven. The idea is that the very universe rings like a bell in praise and adoration of this tiny, unassuming little boy to whom no earthly attention is paid. Sally, Snoopy and the gang were so caught up in all the trivial trappings of the winter wonderland around them that they couldn’t see the true meaning of Christmas.
Finally, when exasperated Charlie Brown exclaims that he just can’t stand it anymore, Linus begins his recitation of the passage in Luke that has become an iconic moment in television: a point of clarity amidst a world of confusion. The true meaning of Christmas is easy to miss even among all the shepherds and wise men and angels if we’re not careful to place Christ in his rightful place of supremacy. He was only tiny when viewed with earthly eyes. Praise God that He saw fit to give us hymns like “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” to keep His true majesty on our hearts and minds. How fitting, then, that it is Wesley’s carol that Charlie and the gang sing to give all praise and glory and honor to the rightful center of our Christmas celebrations.