A Tale of Two (cartoon) Shepherds

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I absolutely adore watching ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ on TV each year. We have the DVD of course, but there’s just something about watching it in real time with commercials and all that really gets to me. I force, I mean ‘gather’ my boys to the TV with Christmas snacks and hot chocolate – they enjoy it, but I wonder for how long. I ask them if they’ll still watch this with me when they are teenagers, they promise they will.

It’s refreshing to see that after years of editing out the ‘overtly religious’ parts of the show, I was happy to see the network is now showing it (gasp!) in it’s original, unedited format.

My kids laugh their way through the same parts every year, my husband (though he may not admit it) sits down on the couch and joins us. I look on Twitter and see that “Charlie Brown Christmas” is trending – a modern day stamp of approval from viewing audiences everywhere. I’m happy that there seem to be people in the world who still care to hear the true story of Christmas, albeit in the form of a cartoon. I sense a collective silence in living rooms across the country as Linus walks up onto the stage to quote Luke and explain the true meaning of Christmas to his friends.

He explains it from the point of the shepherds who were watching over their flocks. He, of course, is a shepherd in the play along with his friend Shermy. The two boys have a very different take, however, on their assigned roles.

Poor Shermy, I think he only speaks one line in the whole show, but you have to feel for the guy:

“Every Christmas it’s the same: I always end up playing a shepherd.”

It’s understandable. The shepherd isn’t a very exciting role. Probably not a lot of action. There’s a director, musicians, animals and even, as Lucy points out, ‘a Christmas Queen.’ Being the quiet shepherd isn’t very exciting.

Linus, on the other hand, seems to embrace his lowly shepherd role. With his security blanket in hand, he steps up and answers Charlie Brown with some straight up Bible truth:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

“Preach it Linus!” I yelled from the couch. The boys looked back at me with scrunched up faces, “shhhh mom, be quiet!”

It’s easy to see our role as small and insignificant. It’s easy to look around at the cast of characters in our real lives and feel like Shermy did. Everyone else has some glitz and glamor, and we find ourselves in a plain, boring role. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s staying at home taking care of kids. Maybe it’s just feeling small.

As we hear the Christmas story again this year, we need to remember something; God chose the shepherds! The biggest, most life-altering news the world has ever seen was announced first to a bunch of nobodies out in a field! God could have done it a million other ways, but he chose shepherds. Why??

Could it be that He wants to remind us that the role we play is an important one, even when we are sighing, “Not again God, please don’t make me a shepherd again!”

Could it be that He wants to honor the humble and lowly of this world with a role far greater than we could ever imagine? Linus was a humble guy, he accepted his role and stepped into the spotlight when he was called upon, and he did it for God’s glory.

There will always be someone with a bigger role than us. If we compare ourselves to them, we will feel small. More importantly, we will miss our calling. Christmas Queens are great, but shepherds remind us that God loves the outcast and the lonely just as much.

At times, we are all the lowly shepherd kid with no lines in the play. We feel like filler in the background. I think we should think twice before we complain about that – God has a habit of searching out the lowly shepherds and revealing His most trusted secrets to them.

About the Author: I am a proud mom of 2 great boys, wife to a fantastic husband, French teacher, and Parisienne girl at heart. I believe God desires to make Himself heard to us in this ever noisy world, and that we can experience Him every day in unexpected ways if we will just open our spiritual eyes and ears. I write from my heart and from personal experience -dwelling in the 'foolishness' of God is an amazing place to be! You can find me on the web at http://scasefamily.wordpress.com/