Charlie Brown is in a funk. He’s feeling down. And he can’t seem to understand what Christmas is all about. Especially when all his friends harp on money and getting stuff — everything Christmas is not.
Except when Lucy plays the resident psychiatrist to try and figure out what is wrong with poor Charlie. After listening to him and analyzing all his fears Lucy concludes that what Charlie needs, in order to get him out of his Christmas depression, is doing something with other people.
And she asks him. “How would you like to be the director of our Christmas play?”
And that one question — an invitation — starts Charlie on an adventure toward his healing and discovery of the real meaning of Christmas.
Invitation is one small gift that can snowball into more and more good things, when the invitation is made and accepted.
The God who created the world and came into it is a God of invitation. God invites us into an open, blessed, loving relationship. God invites us to believe and trust in Him despite the ongoing presence of evil in the world and tragedies surrounding us. God’s invitation to you and to me is an invitation into our healing and making our lives whole, like it was for Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
“Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15)
In response to the angels’ proclamation announcing the Savior’s birth the shepherds didn’t spontaneously without a word get up, leave their sheep and run to Bethlehem.
Someone had to say the words: “Let’s go, eh?” In true, Canadian style.
Did someone invite you to come to church this holy night? If you came because of someone’s invitation, thank you. Thank you for responding as the shepherds of old did, as Charlie Brown did to Lucy’s invitation. Thank you for being bold and risky, and taking a chance on God.
Because in responding positively to a Christmas invitation you embark on a journey. And this journey, through ups and downs, through twists and unexpected turns, leads to an authentic experience of Jesus and healing in your life. So, may God bless you on your journey.
Now, for Charlie Brown, the journey meant he would direct a Christmas play. He’s unsure about taking on this invitation at first. It seems risky, something Charlie admits to Lucy right away he’s not experienced at doing.
But Charlie accepts, partly due to Lucy’s promise to help him.
The God of invitation does not leave us alone. Others walk with us. And friendships are made, and nurtured. That’s how we travel. Together.
Charlie discovers the true meaning of Christmas after being involved with his friends. Not in isolation but in engagement with others in community even through conflict does the journey of invitation lead. Despite the challenges, Charlie confesses hope in making the play work. And, as a sign of their belonging together in the journey, Charlie’s friends come to decorate his little tree.
The shepherds, responding first to the invitation of God through the angels, become the first messengers of the good news of Christ coming. The shepherds, who RSVPed first to join the holy adventure, in turn extended the invitation to others around them. “When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:17).
Thus, the gospel message encircled more and more people. Through invitation.
Tonight, on this holy night, we worship the newborn king. We do this in prayer. In our liturgical tradition common in the Lutheran church, we begin prayer by an invitation from another : “Let us pray…”
The Way, according to Jesus, is not exclusive. It is not elitist. It is not reserved for a select few.
Rather, the invitation is made to all. It is an open invitation for all to join the journey to the manger side to worship the newborn king. One small baby, one great gift of salvation.
One small gift can make all the difference. Charlie’s little Christmas tree was transformed into a symbol of the hope and expansive joy of Christmas.
One small invitation. One great gift of love.