Nearly everyone’s heard it: the thirty-second monologue Linus gives in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” But for some reason this year it was all I could do to keep from bawling like a pre-teenage little girl. Maybe it’s because of the article going around (spoiler alert) about Linus dropping his blanket when he says “fear not!” Or maybe it’s because the monologue has been integrated into one of my favorite holiday songs that holds sentimental meaning. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m a typical emotional, twenty-something year-old female.
No doubt you’ve experienced it too—the crowded shopping centers, the disgruntled sales reps, the panic over the perfect gift for loved ones—the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But at least to balance out the stress there’s a certain warmth that comes with seeing the mall decked out with wreaths and Christmas banners, hearing Mariah Carey belt out “All I Want for Christmas,” and sipping hot chocolate next to an open fire.
Or is there?
For some, this Christmas is marked by apathy. You’ve made it through your child’s Christmas play, your church’s annual cantata, the office party, the Love Feast, the Festival of Lights, and even had every present wrapped and hidden away before December 1.
But it just. doesn’t. feel. like. Christmas.
I know some people who felt the same way. If they could teleport into the modern-day world, we would instantly recognize their exhausted, emotionless faces.
The Ephesians. In the second chapter of Revelation, they have quite the resume of everything that makes a “good” church member. They did good deeds, hated evil deeds, were hard working, had a good eye for false prophets, and were praised for their perseverance and endurance. There was only one little thing wrong…
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:7).
In spite of working themselves ragged to be the ideal body of Christ, they got their priorities mixed up. Sound familiar?
Every year we are encouraged to remember “the real meaning of Christmas”. It’s almost becoming cliché. But reality slapped me in the face as a tiny manger was set before me in the middle of a church gathering three days ago—only, the manger was empty.
There was no baby Jesus. No one to heal my wounded soul. No one to purify me of my sin. No one to pay my ransom……yet.
“In just a few more days, the baby is coming. I hope you will be sitting on the edge of your seat anxiously awaiting His arrival.”
Reading in Revelation the following day, I realized I had not been. I was, however, on the edge of my seat, waiting to spend Christmas morning with my family, and that afternoon with a dear friend. I was on the edge of my seat, excited to see the lit up faces of those I love opening the gifts I got especially for them. But awaiting the celebration of the arrival of my Savior? Nah…He’s always around.
The angel of the church in Ephesus had a warning for them if they did not repent:
“….or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (verse 5b).
I have yet to research exactly what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.
Biblical scholar and commentator Warren W. Wiersbe paints a somber picture of their fate:
“In spite of the privileges it had enjoyed, the church of Ephesus
was in danger of losing its light! The church that loses its lovewill
soon lose its light, no matter how doctrinally sound it may be….
the glorious city of Ephesus is today but a heap of stones and no
light is shining there.”
May we never forget why we celebrate on what would otherwise be just another day. May we never take for granted the sacrifice of the Christ coming down from glorious paradise to a wretched world. May we never cease being thankful for His atonement on the cross. May we never grow weary of worshipping Him or numb to basking in His sweet presence. May we never lose our first love.
“That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown….”