The perfect Halloween special for 2020? It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
NOTE: Originally published in The Monster Gospels For Kids (2018). Photos added.
“There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”
Distributor: Paramount Home Media Distribution
Producers: Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez
Director: Bill Melendez
Writer: Charles M. Schulz
Runtime: 25 minutes
Rating: Not rated
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:31
The second most-loved Charlie Brown special after A Charlie Brown Christmas, today's entry focuses on Linus “making his yearly fool of himself” by spending Halloween in a pumpkin patch as he waits with Charlie Brown's sister Sally for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. In the process, he misses out on all the fun that Halloween brings, forcing Sally to miss out as well.
I have something in common with Linus: I too spent some time in a pumpkin patch. But unlike Linus, who only spent one long night out amongst the gourds, I spent an entire month! I was a volunteer youth leader at the time, and my church was having its annual pumpkin patch fundraiser. Our church was in a rougher neighborhood and was along the side of a highway, so we had a problem with vandalism. Our solution was to park an RV on the side of the patch and have volunteers take turns spending the night to watch over our wares. It was my first year as a youth leader, and I wanted to make a good impression, so (ignoring the youth pastor's warnings) I told the team that I would sign up for any nights they couldn't. Not surprisingly, no one signed up and I was stuck in the pumpkin patch for the whole month, save a couple of nights the youth pastor helped out (or was able to strong-arm someone else to).
Pumpkin patches are magical; while it is easier (and cheaper!) to get your pumpkin at the grocery store, nothing compares to the experience of going to a patch and finding your very own pumpkin out in the aisles of pallets. That magic wears off after a few nights, though, especially when your days are spent rounding up the rotting pumpkins no one bought and chucking them into the dumpster. A week in, the walls of my orange prison were closing in. I was like Sally, thinking of all the things I was missing out on, like Halloween parties and haunted houses. I felt less like Linus and more like Charlie Brown and his bag of rocks.
Despite being called It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus is the main character. He's picked on so much over his belief in the Great Pumpkin that even Charlie Brown – learning nothing from his own bullying – joins in making fun of him. Not that Charlie Brown walks away unscathed; he's told that his invitation to Violet's Halloween party was a mistake, his head is used as the model for a jack-o-lantern, and, of course, there is Lucy's ongoing football prank. Linus gets the worst of it, though. Literally everyone he knows seems to have lined up in his house to take turns jabbing at him while he writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin. Even Snoopy! As the most Christian of the Peanuts Gang, Linus is likely no stranger to the doubts of others, who scoff at our belief that Jesus will return as well.
Jesus won't be rising out of a pumpkin patch, but He will be coming back someday. One thing He and the Great Pumpkin do have in common, however, is that they respect sincerity. They also like to make us wait, but today's passage promises that “they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (ESV).” We exhaust ourselves trying to do everything our way, but this verse encourages us to wait for Him and His wisdom to fulfill our needs. God doesn't always answer us on our timetable, but waiting is part of the point: waiting cultivates trust and forces us to slow down.
For Christians, the belief that Jesus will come back is a source of hope, not fear. We look forward to Jesus setting things right, bringing justice to the hurting and providing an everlasting home for His children. That said, some of our brothers and sisters are so preoccupied with Jesus' return in the future that they miss out on living in the present! As it says in Mark 13:32, even Jesus Himself doesn't know when He will be coming back. So, rather than spending our time in a proverbial pumpkin patch waiting for Jesus to arrive, we should focus on doing the work of ministry and helping others so that He has less to fix when He finally does.
- Have you ever been made fun of because of your beliefs?
- Describe a time you waited on the Lord to answer prayer.
If you enjoyed this examination of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, you might like my book, The Monster Gospels For Kids, a devotional of spiritual lessons we can learn from 13 of the best children's Halloween specials and movie ever made. Get your copy here.
A Queens native, Jason grew up in Lakeland, FL and attended Rochelle School of the Arts before moving to Florida's Nature Coast, where he resides. He always dreamed of being a storyteller, and he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Saint Leo University with a BA in Psychology and a Minor in Religion. He has been a professional guest speaker for thirteen years, talking at churches, graduations, and as a guest lecturer at Pasco-Hernando State College.