In my (for now very occasional) In Good Faith column, I write about the ultimate Christmas prophecy: from The Flintstones.
A Bedrock Christmas
Did you know, there’s a Christmas episode of the Flintstones? It originally aired on December
25, 1964, as part of the original cartoon series. In it, Fred gets a part-time job at Macyrock’s department store to help finance the family’s Christmas. Mr. Macyrock initially fires Fred for being his usual doofus self, but reconsiders when he learns that the store’s regular Santa Claus has the flu. Fred proves a natural at entertaining the children and by the end of his stint, Mr. Macyrock proclaims Fred as the best Santa they’ve ever had.
Oh, but that’s not the end of the story. On Christmas Eve, two of Santa’s elves, named Blinky and Twinky, appear to Fred as Macyrock’s is closing for the night. They explain to Fred that the real Santa Claus is sick and they ask him to help deliver presents to children around the world. As Fred steps in to save the day, we see him perched atop Santa’s sleigh shouting “Merry Christmas” in French, Italian, German, Dutch, English, and Swedish.
This is all very nice, until you do the math. And you think, “Wait a minute. The Flintstones took place in the Stone Age. That was two-and-a-half million years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”
But as Christmas has become increasingly secular, it’s entirely possible to celebrate the holiday like the Flintstones: completely devoid of faith. You can celebrate Christmas without any sense of what it’s about or why it matters.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Many of the people we know and care about lean into this mid-winter celebration with great joy. They put up beautifully decorated trees and reverently place garland on their banisters. They gather friends and family for Christmas dinner, pulling out all the culinary stops, reveling in this most wonderful time of the year. This is all good and even holy in its own way. But, as with the Flintstones’ Christmas, there’s something missing.
For Christians, the deep truth embedded in the celebration of our Lord’s birth is that God entered the world in human form. Not to condemn the world in its brokenness, but as an act of love. That’s the source of our joy; it’s what lights up the world, making it brighter than even the gaudiest holiday displays.
This season, I invite you to pause amid your own revelry to reflect upon the light that transcends even the brightness of the famous Worth Avenue Christmas tree. This is the light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not and cannot overcome it. It is the light that enters our hearts anew year after year. It is the light that offers desperately needed hope and meaning to our lives.
Truth be told, I’m still not sure why Fred yelled out “Merry Christmas!” rather than “Yabadabadoo!” from Santa’s sleigh in that Flintstones’ Christmas episode. But however and wherever you celebrate this year, please know that you are deeply loved by the God who created you. And that through the birth of God’s son, God invites you into an ever-deepening and ever-unfolding relationship.
Merry Christmas, friends. May the true joy of this season shine brightly within you.
The Rev. Tim Schenck serves as Rector of the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach.