The version I grew up with was the 1964 stop-motion feature.
Rudolph is a classic tale of child bullying, and shallow fame. Do you remember? Rudolph's own dad, was ashamed 'cause his kid had a red nose. A red nose! Instead of offering some Nyquil to soothe what is clearly a common cold, he forces Rudolph to cover his nose in black junk, just so he won't be different than the other deer at school. How...intolerant. (Insert a rousing chorus of Lady Gaga's: Born This Way here.)
It doesn't stop there! Whilst rough-housing with some friends at deer flying school, Rudolph's fake nose is knocked off, and the other kids see he is different from them.
What happens? They bully him of course. Santa, stops by, and does absolutely nothing to help this poor baby deer. Apparently Santa is not up to speed with his "North Pole Celebrates Diversity" curriculum that is probably federally regulated to prevent discrimination and harassment. Oh Santa. Next time you run for office, I can imagine the field day the press will have with this story...
Things aren't lookin' so hot for poor, Rudolph.
That is...until a great blizzard shows up, and suddenly Rudolph, and his shiny nose, are needed to light the way for Santa's sleigh. Rudolph saves Christmas and becomes super popular, of course, now only after he's deemed useful for something.
So children, we clearly learn in this folksy old Christmas tale to ridicule those who may be different than ourselves, unless we can get something out of them, or they save Christmas of course. Then we can be their best friend.
What about Suzy Snowflake? If you haven't seen this one, check it out! Basically, it's about a creepy snowflake fairy who stalks you. I kid you not. Every winter, she comes "tap-tap-tappin'" on your window paine to let you know she's in town. Freaky, right? My question is... is she breaking any sort of privacy laws?
Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman is another beloved children's story because, well, let's face it, he's a magical snowman! How cool is that?
But even magic, it seems, is not enough to protect this wonderful snowman from humanity's destructive tendencies. As I watch Frosty melt into a puddle of slush, I'm reminded of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth and sadly shake my head.
I mean, lets be real here...Not even a magical hat will protect a snowman from Global Warming!
Frosty becomes an endangered species at the end of the show right along with the polar bear...
What about the Grinch?
Well, let's begin with what we do know.
We know that he has a record of breaking and entering. That he hates the generally happiness of everyone. Has no problem with theft.
The Grinch, it seems, can represent a hypothetical molotov cocktail of corporate greed, envy, and common criminal characteristics that one can see why he'd be an obvious choice of a main character in a children's film.
But then his heart changes.
I'm not kidding, it does!
At the end of the tale his icy heart melts, and is replaced by a heart of gold, which is actually a disturbing transition if I'm completely honest...
The Grinch's heart swells to an alarming size, which makes me really question how much longer he actually lived after bench pressing a sleigh full of toys on Mount Crumpet.
Some say it was the spirit of Christmas that caused this, I would respectfully disagree...
All the strain of his physical activities accompanied by the terrible food choice of roast beast would've probably caused the swelling, and a massive heart failure, to be sure.
I always wondered why his coloring didn't look so good. Now we know...
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." -Isaiah 9:6-7
As Christmas approaches, churches all over the United States begin their typical "Christmas message series."
Often what this will entail is a rehash of the Christmas story, the shepherds, the wise men, the heavenly hosts singing and such...
Such statements as "peace on earth" and "goodwill toward men" begin to crop up left and right. As if they were an option the rest of the year, till now...
Pastor Jason taught on the verse above, from Isaiah, this Sunday and he raised a profound question: "What is peace?"
Sure, it isn't the first time this question has been asked, and it certainly won't be the last time. But what is peace? Do Christians fully grasp the concept? And if they don't, how then can the world understand this peace that Christ supposedly gives?
As this Christmas season kicks into full swing, I'm left thinking a lot about this word because, admittedly, we Americans live a rather chaotic sort of lifestyle. A life that is planned, and scheduled till every spare minute is accounted for.
We're budgeting our lives.
And does peace mean an absence of conflict? Or absence of chaos? What is the peace that Jesus supposedly left us?
There was a story that my mother read to me when I was growing up that deeply affected me. It was actually about Christmas, I think.
It was a story about the Great War. World War I ravaged Europe for four horrible years. German against Brit, Italian against Austro-Hungarian. Trenches were dug and camped in. For many soldiers these trenches were their graves. Generals would send their men to fight and die over, literal inches of ground. Then the next day the opposition would push them back from the ground they just took. Death, disease, sorrow. The reality of war. But, in this story, something happened on Christmas Day. The guns stopped blazing, and both sides ran up a flag of truce. Men came out of the trenches, and joined together in "no man's land." and played football, shared cigarettes, and had a meal together. As the sun set, both sides joined in a chorus of silent night, knowing that the next day, they would once again be enemies. Fighting and dying over inches of soil.
I remember, in the final pages of that book, fighting back the tears. The lump in my throat growing, making it hard to speak. I remember thinking; "Why, oh why? Why do they have to die? Why does it have to be like this? It doesn't have to be like this..."
The peace Jesus gives one who chooses to follow him, isn't a peace you can find in this world. This world has conflict, heartache and sorrow. It will until it is renewed and made complete again. This world, even in its quietest moments will remain, in God's ears, as the screams and chaos of war. So, Jesus isn't a ticket around that.
Jesus claims to have brought a peace that surpasses this world, though.
Humanity, long estranged, and at war with the heavens, has been offered peace. Peace from a divine act. We no longer are separated from the heavenly realms, because of the incredible act of the divine in flesh. The original freedom fighter.
That's the peace he brings.
That's the reason that countless Christians throughout history have been able to endure hateful words, torture, brutality, and execution. Do you think they felt peace in that trial?
I think so.
I think they knew that there was something greater happening. I think that the sheer idea of peace being made with our Creator is nothing short of infectious! It is for that reason, that countless followers of Jesus went to their graves, with nothing that the world would consider gain in their future.
But it is those Christians who have found themselves, free of the trenches, war and destruction. It's those Christians who are now, sharing with their brothers, a meal prepared for them in celebration of the Savior that was promised!
Peace has been made. Peace has been given to us! Isn't that incredible?
This Christmas, you may find that you aren't at peace. That there is still war within, and that you feel there is no end to conflict...we've all been there. Me too.
I want you to know that there is peace to be found. It may not solve all of life's problems for you. It may not right the countless wrongs that you've endured. Jesus isn't a genie. It doesn't work like that.
This peace will keep you afloat is the raging seas. And it will see you safely through the fire. The peace you can have through Jesus lasts forever. It can't be touched, and it can't be broken.
It's a peace that will one day bring all forth from their graves in the trenches of life. It will be a meal. A song of harmony. A peace that won't end after a day, but will continue to endure.
We are now restored to the Creator of all, the one who holds this expansive universe in his hands. The one who cares for you, and walks with you, no matter how dark it may seem.
That, my friends, is why we celebrate the Savior's birth.