Thursday, October 27, 2016

"It's The Great King Charlie Brown!"

Halloween is just around the corner and every year there are television adds as well as television programs promoting Halloween themes. One program that has become a classic is "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown." I have always enjoyed creator Charles Schultz's Peanuts characters. There are many themes interwoven throughout "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" but the main focus is the excitement and expectation Linus has at the anticipation that the Great Pumpkin is coming. The Great Pumpkin as Linus understands it, rises up out of the pumpkin patch every Halloween delivering candy to all the good boys and girls around the world that sit dutifully waiting for him to appear. All of Linus's friends including Charlie Brown, think Linus is crazy and waisting his time. They decide they would rather take the guaranteed goodies and go trick or treating. Unfortunately Charlie Brown's trick or treat experience is less than desirable beginning with a botched Halloween costume and then receiving a rock instead of candy which is thrown into his bag at every house he visits with his friends. At the end of the evening Lucy, Linus' sister, goes back to check on Linus in the pumpkin patch. She finds Linus lying on the ground shivering from the cold. Lucy gets her brother up and takes him home to bed. The next morning Charlie Brown and Linus review the events of Halloween night and share their disappointments. However, Linus still believes that the Great Pumpkin will return next year and he will be ready and waiting. I don't know about you but there are times when I feel like Charlie Brown. Life hands me a bag of rocks which can become heavy and weigh me down. I would love to have the "sweet treats"of life on a regular basis. However, Jesus is quite clear in John 16:33 when He says,"In this world you will have trouble." The good news is the second part of that verse, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." The fact that Jesus has overcome death and the grave, giving us new life, is what keeps us persevering. It's the same perseverance that Linus demonstrates waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Linus is willing to wait patiently and with expectation that the Great Pumpkin will come and fulfill his promise to all the good boys and girls in the world. However, the reality is that the Great Pumpkin is a fantasy of Linus' imagination and will not be appearing any time in the future. Unlike the Great Pumpkin, our Lord Jesus Christ is not a fantasy of someone's imagination but He is alive and coming again. In John 14:1-3 Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am." Furthermore, in the book of Revelation 22:7,12,20 Jesus says three times that He is coming soon. The promises of Jesus encourage His followers to wait patiently and with expectation for the Lord's return with the same enthusiasm Linus demonstrated towards the Great Pumpkin. (Isaiah 30:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:11-13; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:1-3)  Jesus' return will be much more glorious than the Great Pumpkin's appearance and heaven will come down with Him. John puts it this way in Revelation 21:1-4, "Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,"Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Unlike Linus, we don't have to sit in a pumpkin patch hoping that Jesus will appear. In fact, He is with us right now through the power and presence of His Holy Spirit that dwells with every Christ follower and within every Christ follower. So, if I were Charlie Brown's friend and he was depressed over a fruitless and frustrating Halloween night that yielded only rocks, I would put my arms around him and tell him, "It's the Great King Charlie Brown!" "He is the One who can turn your rocks into riches! We don't need a sugar high when we can experience a "supernatural high" because of Jesus." As we approach the start of the Advent season at the end of November, let us wait once again with expectation for the glorious revelation of the first coming of our Lord and respond with enthusiasm to Jesus' declaration that He is coming again soon. "Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20b)
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you,
Pastor Sheree