December 24, 2023 Sermon – Linus Dropped His Blanket Twice!


My Fourth Sunday of Advent message is simple.  My Christmas Eve morning message is simple.  I even like it so much I may even someday have it tattooed onto my body.  Two words: FEAR NOT!

Over and again, it is the message of the prophets of old: FEAR NOT

Joshua 1:9, “Fear not nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 43:1, “Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear Not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Over and again it is the message of the Angel of the Lord at the time of Jesus’ conception and birth:  FEAR NOT!

Luke 1:13, The angel said to Zechariah: Fear not.

Luke 1:30, The angel said to the virgin in Nazareth called Mary: Fear Not!

Luke 2:10-11, The angels said to the shepherds: Fear Not, for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Time and again the adult preacher, teacher, miracle worker, Savior: Jesus calls out to those how love Him: FEAR NOT!

Luke 12:32, Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Two of my favorite all-time people are in fact best friends. And both these friends continually need to hear these words because they are just chock full of fears and anxieties.  Maybe that’s why I like them so much, I am a lot like them.

Good ole Charlie Brown and his pal Linus.  Charlie Brown is an anxiety machine.  It is so bad Linus actually says to him, “Charlie Brown you are the only person who can turn the wonderful season of Christmas and turn it into a problem.”

Then there is Linus himself.  Full of fears and anxieties.  It is so bad for him, he clings to that blue “Security Blanket” so fiercely hoping it will help him stave off fear.

Linus was forever warding off those who would try to get him to let go or give up his blanket.  Even Lucy’s 5 finger reason to ditch the blanket cannot get to him let it go.  He would be attacked by the stress, anxiety and fear without his blanket.  simply refuses to give it up…until…

After Charlie cries out “Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?”

Linus takes center stage and recites our Luke 2 passage of Angels and Shepherds.

When Linus utters the words, “Fear Not!” He simply drops the blanket.

Blogger Jason Soroski wrote “Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

“The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

“The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

“The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

“The world of 2023 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2023 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to ‘fear not.’

“But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.”

At the feet of Jesus.

I do want us to / urge us / beg us to lay our fears at the feet of Jesus

FEAR NOT!  Let’s continue with “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

After hearing what Christmas is all about Charlie grabs the “Charlie Brown tree” and skips home. Trying to decorate it, he puts at the top a heavy bulb. And of course, it bends the tiny three all the way to the ground. He leaves the stage in tears.

Charlie didn’t know the gang was following. And misses Linus letting go of the blanket a second time.

After Charlie “killed” the tree, quite lovingly, Linus wrapped his blanket around the base of the tree and propped it up.  So, the second time Linus lets go of the blanket, is to do good, to minister, to let another, albeit a tree, lean on him.

That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

The prophets who so boldly proclaim fear not, went out and shared God’s word in an oppressive time that makes our messed-up world look like a merry-go-round ride.

The angels who so boldly proclaim fear not, left the perfect light of heaven and move into the scary darkness of night into a world they have never known and do God’s work ministering to Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds.

The shepherds who were scared out of their boots, travel at night, leaving their sheep to who knows what? Fearing not the shepherds go out and seek Jesus and then proclaim him to everyone they meet.

Linus lets go of the blanket to minister.

We can overcome our fears by first recognizing Jesus words “Fear not!” And then acting on them to proclaim with our words they are true.  Live out with our actions they are true.  Let others lean on us and depend on us and know they are true even if like the shepherds we are shaking in our boots.

When we are in emotional anguish, anxiousness and fear, others can help us.  When we see others in fear and dread, we can drop our fears like Linus dropping the blanket and proclaim Jesus Christ in word and in deed.

That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.  The birth, the life, the ministry, the passion, the death and resurrection give us what it takes to drop the FEAR we have been grasping so tightly and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

We then have what it takes to go out into this frightening world proclaiming the Good News of Great Joy.  Support others as they fear.  Give what is closest to us so others may survive and thrive.

Just as the Son of Man came not be served but to serve – the coming of the Son of God as an infant gives us the power, courage, and strength to let go of our fears and insecurities so to the Lord and others with gladness.

ABOUT REV. STEVE NOFEL: Steve was originally ordained in another denomination 32 years ago. He has been a PCUSA pastor for 28 plus years. His wife, Kim, is also a PCUSA pastor. Right after they were married, they moved to her first call in southeast Nebraska. Steve fell into interim / transitional ministry and found his calling. He served as an interim minister for 11 years. Then Kim and Steve became co-pastors for 12 years in Cortez, Colorado. After leaving Cortez, he once again found his niche in transitional ministry. Steve has been serving congregations in Baltimore Presbytery as “Staff Interim” for the last year.