Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 3

Hi Friends!
In last week's lesson at Connections Christian Church, I mentioned on a couple of occasions my disdain for the abbreviation "Xmas" in our culture for the word Christmas. I succeeded in making a "crescendo" as it was a topic of discussion after the service, although in reality it was just a minor thought in relation to the Christmas Carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," which was our theme for the day. You can research the origin of the abbreviation on several on-line sites for additional information but the section highlighted below is from and I believe accurately reflects the origin and also speaks to my concerns.
First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.” In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”  As lovers of the alphabet, we are transfixed by the flexibility of “X.” The same letter can represent the sacred, the profane (“rated X”), and the unknown (“X-ray“).

So to clarify, I consider it a sacred privilege to have studied Greek (many moons ago) under the late Dr. Donald Nash, a scholar considered by most of his peers to be an authority on the New Testament use of the language, and to actually (with the grace and help of God) have received an "A" for my understanding of the language at that time. That does not make me an expert by a long-shot and admittedly my use of the Greek today is mostly from a Lexicon or Greek Grammar as opposed to my ability to freely translate or otherwise use the language.
That said, my thought is that few people in America are reading Greek today and few people know the origin of the word, and that most advertisers are cutting corners with Christmas to play the game of political correctness. In hindsight, I need to be more careful to represent the truth with greater compassion (not just passion) as my passion in that moment probably outweighed my compassion with respect to seeing the word Christmas spelled out in English in our culture.
To summarize my thoughts...

Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins and I'm a sinner and you are a sinner and everyone born into this world except Jesus Christ is a sinner. And so I am most grateful Jesus Christ was born sinless to God and the Virgin Mary and that He willingly died by crucifixion on the cross of Calvary to pay my sin-debt and yours and arose from the grave to give us eternal life. It gives me great joy to know that Jesus is looking down from the right hand of His Father in heaven and is pleased when ministers of the gospel passionately and compassionately preach "Joy to the World" which is the next carol in our Christmas series.

Forgive me if you must for assuming that while Jesus not only can read the Greek but also authored the language, that while looking down on America in 2013 that He just might prefer His name to be included in full in "Xmas" as the Christ of Christmas. I believe few Americans in the 21st Century know that "X" is Greek for Christ rather than a commercialized substitution for the word Christ in English speaking America. That is my opinion pure and simple and I should have stated it more clearly and much more compassionately as such.
Speaking of JOY...our son gets to come home for Christmas before heading off to a College Bowl Game with Ball State University. We are pumped about seeing our son and I am equally pumped that he recently sent me the link below to increase my JOY! I hope by watching it that it will increase your JOY too and that you will keep "Christ" in the center of your life and your Christmas! As Ravi Zacharias points out in the video clip, I don't really need to worry about God taking care of His name in culture. EnJOY!
God's Peace,

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you - there may have been a Christ-focused origin to Xmas, but that has essentially disappeared. The same can be said for Holy Days => holidays. Now, holidays are reasons for big store sales, big meals, and lots of football.

    I am bothered that people are trying to remove Christ from Christmas. At work, they have put up a Christmas tree, and then they wish people "Happy Holidays". The tying of a tree to Christmas is a whole 'nother topic for discussion - but it retains the name of "Christmas tree". It isn't a "Holiday tree".

    As in the video, regardless of how people fight against God, God wins. He reminds us that He is in charge, that He is bigger than any of us, and that He loves us.

    The carol for Sunday includes the line "Let earth receive her King". That is Christ in Christmas, and it's true whether or not anyone chooses to believe it.