Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Xmas!

It seems that about this time every year I will see someone write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper talking about the phrase "Merry Xmas." A few years ago I wrote this response.

The idea behind the statement was that Christ is removed from Christmas by using "Xmas." This is a common misconception. I am no Greek scholar, but according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary the Greek word for Christ is “Χριστός.” In English we would transliterate that as Christos (Xristos). As you can see in the Greek, the first letter of Christ is “X.”

Christmas simply means “the Christ mass.” It is a fact that 16th Century Europeans referred to the Christ mass as Xmas (and there are also uses of the words "Xian" and "Xianity"). It is possible that Xmas was used before this time, as it would be simple shorthand for Christmas, but my limited research has not proven this. Knowing these facts, it should be up to each individual as to how they will refer to Christmas. Originally, no disrespect was intended in substituting the first letter of Christ.

We must remember that Christmas is a long-standing tradition of the church and not a Biblical sacrament or ordinance. Perhaps we should concern ourselves more with what Christianity (and Christmas as well) should be all about: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (Jam 1:27 ESV) I believe this is something on which we all need to work.

On another note, don't miss Kevin Presseault's outline from a sermon he gave on December 4. He makes some great points about the true peace that Jesus brought to us. And don't miss his Christmas CSS!

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (Joh 16:33 ESV) Note that while we are in the world that things will go wrong (or be unpeaceful) but we should take care in the fact that the world has been overcome and that we can have inner peace that will flow from us into all of our relationships.

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