The Gospel According to Peanuts

What you missed in Charlie Brown’s Christmas special

One of the most profound books my pastor father ever brought home was called “The Complete Peanuts.” I learned much while smiling my way through that book. From Charlie Brown I learned that rejection and insults would come. Soldier on. I learned it’s okay to be scared. Just don’t let it control you. The little dog Snoopy taught me to never lick ice cream from a hot sidewalk. Lucy and her famous Psychiatry Booth taught me that sometimes we need to listen.  From the loveable pianist Schroder, I learned do what you love to do.  From the whole gang I learned that friends are valuable.  That despite our foibles and failures, we need to be there for each other. When Linus, who carries his security blanket everywhere, asked Lucy, “Do you ever pray?” I knew I needed to. When Snoopy is comforted with the words, “Be of good cheer,” I knew those were the words of Jesus. In one cartoon, the ever wise Lucy tells Charlie and Linus, “You know what’s funny? Paintings of Adam and Eve where they both have belly buttons. Think about that. Take as much time as you need.

When Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts, passed away in 2000, he was still the third top-earning deceased celebrity, trailing only Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Schultz was a devout Christian whose characters sometimes cited Scripture. Charlie Brown catches Snoopy stealing food from the refrigerator, pulls out a Bible and says, “Thou shall not steal.” Snoopy borrows the book, flips the page and points to: “Thou shall not muzzle the ox while he treads out the grain.

Peanuts taught me to laugh a little each day. Go fly a kite. Dance like a dog. Eat a snowflake. And trust.

You’ve likely watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. But I guarantee you missed something. There’s only one time in 50 years of Peanuts cartoons when Linus dropped his security blanket. He is giving his speech on what Christmas is all about. Linus is quoting the beautiful words the angel spoke to the shepherds in Luke 2, and when he says, “Fear not,” he drops the blanket.

Sometimes a little cartoon can teach us to let go of worry, to drop those things we hang onto, to reflect on the God who is with us, and fear not.

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