WASHINGTON, December 11, 2017: This Christmas season, you will, no doubt, hear the song, watch the cartoon and read the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer countless times.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – It’s a classic after all.
Classics stories are those stories that have stood the test of time. They have a timeless quality to them, a universal appeal, an ageless message. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story is popular for many reasons.
Rudolph’s story is an adorable story that most children can relate to. And it’s so cute seeing elementary school children singing and dancing to his anthem while wearing little antlers and red noses.
Rudolph has had two television specials. The first from 1948:
And he also has his own stop-motion Christmas special, dated 1964.
Is Rudolph’s popularity because he is secular?
The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is filled with great lessons. Inclusion, anti-bullying, rising to the occasion and being who you are. It is a secular holiday story that teachers can teach the kids in school.
But is it really secular?
Rudolph is a peculiar baby reindeer, one that’s different, one that doesn’t fit in. He’s bullied and made fun of. But in the end, the thing that makes him different turns out to be a skill that Santa needs to bring Christmas to the world.
He saves Christmas and becomes a hero.
Is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a parable of the story of Christ?
Rudolph’s story does have a strong anti-bullying message. It is also a parable of the Christ story and has a closer connection to Christmas than the casual observer might realize.
The key idea is found in Matthew 21:42 when Jesus quotes from Psalms 118:22:
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” In other words, the reindeer that the herd rejected has become the light for Santa’s sleigh. “This is what the Lord has done and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
This very simple message is taught throughout the Gospels.
In Matthew, in 24:40 Jesus says, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Seeing Jesus in those around you, especially the poor and the downtrodden, is crucial for Christian behavior. And the same message is taught in the well-known parable of the good Samaritan.
Everyone is your neighbor, love them as yourself.
The story of acceptance of others continues in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul teaches that people have different gifts, skills, talents, and they are all valuable and in fact necessary. He describes the members of the Body of Christ. In verse 17 he says,
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”
It takes all the different parts working together for society to work. Here the focus is on diversity; diversity of gifts, works, traits, personalities, and ways of thinking.
Rudolph’s story a story for a divisive nation
In this time of division in our country, and this Christmas season, it would do well for many adults to learn the lesson of Rudolph. There are many points of view, but they are all American. There are people in your community, workplace, or family, who do not agree with your worldview.
Every family has its black sheep.
But just because someone thinks differently doesn’t make them a bad person. Sometimes thinking differently is what it takes to navigate through foggy times.
But making fun of the “Rudolphs” we meet, doesn’t fix problems. It can destroy solutions.
Many people right now feel persecuted by one side or another.
This Christmas season, go out of your way to give some joy to those people you would otherwise avoid. Do not cast your estranged relatives out, but welcome them into your life, so that there can be “Peace on Earth, and goodwill towards men.”