Advent and the Great Pumpkin

Watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin”, Charlie Brown with my grandchildren on Halloween, the movie seemed a strange story for children on what is for most a candy filled, fun holiday. Linus waits and waits and waits, accompanied only by the somewhat reluctant Sally, for the coming of the Great Pumpkin whom he assures his friends will come bringing gifts to all sincere believers.  In spite of the ridicule of his friends, he waits. He is certain the Great Pumpkin is coming.  But the Great Pumpkin doesn’t come, and Linus’ friends, finally even Sally, leave him alone and shivering in the pumpkin patch while they trick-or-treat and party. Linus’ faithful, expectant waiting seems to be a story of disappointment and unfulfilled hopes.  The Great Pumpkin doesn’t come. There are no gifts.

What does the Great Pumpkin represent?  Does it represent God?  Is there another layer to this story that is easily overlooked?  I believe so.  Just as Charlie Brown gets a rock while the other children get candy and other sweets, there is a rock of truth in this story for us.  God promises that He is our rock.  He is ever with us.  So where is God in this story?

To me, this is a story of advent—of waiting for the coming and of incarnation.  It is not that God (the Great Pumpkin) does not come into the world, but that Linus does not recognize His coming.  Lucy is the Christ figure in this story.  At each house, she asks for extra candy to share with Linus.  When she realizes he is not home at 4 a.m., she goes in search of him.  When she finds him, alone, shivering from cold in the pumpkin patch, she embraces him and carries him home.  She removes his shoes (Christ removing the sandals and washing the feet of his disciples) and tucks him gently in bed, Christ is here.  Christ is incarnate in Lucy.  He is incarnate within each of us as we are Christ to each other, bringing the gift of love.  The Great Pumpkin is here.

Nancy Young
National President, The Episcopal Community