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Monday, December 12, 2011

Charlie Brown by Rote

My time in the Word took me to Isaiah 29:13 this morning. You will remember that both Matthew 15:7 – 8 and Mark 7:6 – 7 record Christ quoting this passage when confronted by the Pharisees about hand washing. The portion of this passage that brings me up short is “…their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…” The Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of rote is in part, “…in a mechanical manner, by routine, especially by the mere exercise of memory without proper understanding of, or reflection upon, the matter in question; also, with precision, by heart.” There is much in the Christian life that we do by rote. Go to church, pray at meals, celebrate Christmas; we even memorize scripture.

As we enter into this Christmas season, it is important that our kids know what is going on. What is really happening here? What can we do to exercise proper understanding, and reflection so that they do not fall into the holiday spirit of the world?

Charles Shultz got it. In his classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus not only has the Luke 2 passage by rote, but demonstrates understanding and reflection. Watch this with your kids and talk about what is important about Christmas.


We have a Hallmark ornament of this scene on our tree. 

It is one of the ways that we reflect on the season.  During the next few days I will share some of the other things we do.

What does your family do to remove the Christmas season from rote?


  1. Timely! The kids are gone, but are coming back with their children. We'll have the opportunity for a fresh shot to continue the process with the next generation!

    I was reflecting a few days on a phrase of the wonderful Christmas hymn, "O Come, O Come Immanuel." That phrase goes, "O come, Desire of nations...." In my mind, though I got it, "O Come, Desire of ages, come.... Maybe I heard another edition.

    But whatever, I realized that as much as I love the glorious story of Immanuel's coming, I've grown up with it all my life, ever since I can remember.

    I can't really imagine the reaction of those shepherds, the magi, and others who experienced the events of that first night of the fulfillment of a promise waited for for at least 2000 years! My mother-in-law used to say that half the fun of a surprise is the anticipation. What about 2000 years of anticipation!

    I'm looking forward to more ideas in these coming days of helping make this a growing reality for myself, and us all.

  2. ...I had forgotten that Linus broke the "real Christmas story" down in the show. How awesome is that! Do they still play on network televsion?

    ...our children are all pretty small. We never did Santa Claus with them... I thought they might be missing out on a fun tradtion initally but it has worked out very well. They have taken a mature posture about what Christmas means. We tell them not to spoil it for other kids... We get a cake and have a Happy Birthday Jesus party usually some time in the week of Christmas. They really get excited about that!