Contend Earnestly: Putting "Christ" Back into Christmas?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Putting "Christ" Back into Christmas?


Tell some Christians "Merry X-Mas" or "Happy Holidays" and they will react as bad as they would if you preach with jeans on or try and contextualize the gospel to their children. They simply lose it. I have seen some, when told "Happy Holidays" in the supermarket, snapping back, "Merry CHRISTmas!" Wow. They'll tell you that if you use these terms that you are not being a witness for Christ during this special part of the year. Don't you know that if you rearrange the letters of Santa you can make the name of Satan! Or, I will put the name of Christ back into Christmas, while you put the "ho, ho" back into the term ho-liday.

I find it odd that people hold so dear the term Christmas while not really thinking of the other terms or who is using them. They also parade the term like it is as biblical as the Trinity. While Christmas is definitely a special time of year and one that I do enjoy because Christ is definitely on display in many places, the fact is that never in the Bible are we told to remember the birth of Christ.


While the consumerism does bother me quite a bit during Christmas, so does the Christian who marches around with a chip on their shoulder like they are taking on the world that hates Jesus during the Christmas time. They find it funny when people spray paint red on fur coats and yell, "murderer" but what they don't understand is they look just as ridiculous with their "Merry CHRISTmas" as they try and be a witness when yelling at the clerk that is just trying to keep his job by following the boss' orders to say "Happy Holidays."

Here are a couple of reasons that the terms "Merry X-Mas" and "Happy Holidays" don't bother me at all and could care less who uses the terms or why.

1. Merry X-Mas is Merry CHRIST-mas

This is actually pretty funny. Most people get angry when they see the "X" in place of "Christ" in Christmas. They say that people are taking Christ out of Christmas or that people are crossing out Christ for Christmas. These same people crack me up because they also have 5 different kinds of "Jesus Fish" on the back of their car and every one of the i's on their t-shirts are dotted with the Ichthus as well.

If they just did some looking around they would notice that in the Ichthus that the second letter in the Ichthus is the Greek letter "x" that stands for...yeah...Christ. This shortened term for Christ seems to go all the way back to the 4th century and one of the most endeared symbols in our Christian history uses it in the Chi Rho by Constantine.

I actually laugh every time I hear someone get upset about someone using "X" in place of Christ. If they stopped making T-Shirts saying "Put Christ Back Into Christmas", take off their earphones blasting "Christian" music and step out of their bubble they would realize that when someone uses "X" in Christmas it gives us a great opportunity to speak about what the "X" stands for. I would ask that people do research on how the "X" was used and then be ready to speak to others about its importance. I think we would all be surprised at the usage and also the reaction of knowing the importance of the term and the realization that they haven't taken Christ out of Christmas, but kept Him there and given us a great way to contextualize the gospel to others.

2. Happy Holidays!

The second thing that really irks people are stores or people that say, "Happy Holidays!" What is the big deal? We have always said that this is a great "holiday season" and the term means "Holy Day." And by the way, whether we like to admit it or not, there is more going on during the solstice than just Christmas. We also have Kwanzaa, Hanukka and don't forget the best of all the holidays, Festivus for the rest of us. Now, I am not saying that these holidays are to be revered in any way or are they correct in any way. But, we must realize that since we are not a Christian nation but we are a nation of many religions and many diverse people, that stores who pigeonhole people to the term "Christmas" are not very smart in the way that they market.

Let me ask you dear Christian: Would you shop at a place where Kwanzaa was the only thing celebrated there or would you boycott it? Don't answer that question.

What I would say that instead of getting crazy about people saying Happy Holidays, why not simply say, "Happy Holidays" back? I have to say that you are not doing any good, and actually pretty shameful by making "Merry CHRISTmas" very pronounced when you snap back.

Start thinking before you snap back and ask how you can use these two terms, Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays for the cause of Christ instead of making yourself sound very odd. By the way, if you do snap back and hear someone laughing loudly, turn around because it's me and I might just spray paint your "CHRIST-mas" sweater red for fun to make a point.

12 comments:

Joseph Louthan said...

Read enough NT in the Greek and you would be proud to say:

"I love Χριστῷ!

By His death on the cross, the power of the Holy Spirit and the will of the Father, I am a Xian!

On December 25th, I get to celebrate Xmas! Woohoo!"

SnatchedFromTheFire said...

I agree with much of what you have written, and was not aware of the "X" meaning Christ. This is defintiely not a "hill to die on" and Christians often look foolish making it one.
That said, i wonder if everyone shares your love for etymology or understanding of the Greek language? Even if you are suggesting that "X-mas" was used in the past by those who knew why they were using it, is it seriously your belief that a: society in general is using these terms is such an informed way today? and b: (in light of such millitant forces as, say, the New Atheism) do you really believe that there are not strong forces who ARE, in fact, seeking to take Christ out of everything?

I dunno, what's my point? I agree with the content of your post but i think you're preaching to the choir. Businesses have stopped calling it Christmas, etc. b/c there is a growing voice that wants "religion" of any kind gone, and so it is therefore not "good business" to talk about Christ - you could lose precious dollars!!! I just think that is also something we cannot ignore as Christians or Xians or what have you.

Seth McBee said...

Snatchedfromthefire:

I see your points. But, the fact is...they are secular businesses trying to make money. If they want to take Jesus out of Christmas and make it more general to appease more customers...that's a GREAT BUSINESS decision. And is totally fine with me...who cares if they call it the holidays or see X-Mas and like it better than Christmas...they are a secular (although I don't have a problem with Christian businesses doing the same as I own my own business).

It is our job to try and contextualize the holiday season to see if people understand what it's the story of and what is the importance. Which isn't saying, "Merry Christmas" but is showing the transforming power of the Gospel. People think that they are doing this by being moralistic and prideful by emphasizing "CHRISTmas" and I have even heard this preached from the pulpit which made me laugh out loud during the sermon...

Whether one knows the origination of "X" or not, one should know the difference between living in a Christian nation and a secular one and shopping at the Christian book store and Target.

Thanks for the comment and the thoughts...let me know if I am not making sense.

Darlene said...

Perhaps Christians should begin saying "Blessed Incarnation!" For Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, took on flesh in order to raise us up, to heal us, and to deify us. Now, we are partakers of His Divine nature because He took on our nature.

This love from above that came down to us, humbling Himself, living as we live, suffering for our sake, is a radical love to which no other can compare. "God became man that we might become God" an early church Father has said, and so it is that the children of God are being changed into His likeness from glory to glory.

He demonstrated a love that was willing to lay aside the place He had with His Father. He now teaches us to love others as He loved/loves us. He reveals to us the intimate love that the blessed Trinity share, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our celebration of such a holy mystery cannot be summed up in a phrase alone. Those who are not in Christ have only a phrase, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." We, as beloved children of God, have Christ, He in us and we in Him. We belong to His body, the Church, and have all the blessings that come with such an awesome calling and responsibility. In thankfulness, let us take this precious gift and good news to those who need to hear it. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life."

BLESSED INCARNATION!

Carl Schuster said...

you listen to matt chandler i'm assuming?

Seth McBee said...

Carl.
I haven't listened to many sermons besides my own church's for about the last year. But, I do like Chandler...why?

J said...

I discovered your blog, while looking for a reference to refere a mis-informed friend to, and whole-heartedly agree with just about everything you said.

Great post!

David Shaw said...

Seth,

If I recall right you posted about this last Christmas. While agree with you on Christmas clothing I will make the same comment about the word Christmas as I did last year. Here is my comment on last years post - "Most of those that substitute X in place of Christ in Christmas are not doing it with the understanding that X is Christ in Greek. They see it as a shorter way to write the word Christmas, that's all. I also find it interesting that those that do use a Greek X in place of Christ don't use the Greek word for mass, which is the last part of the word Christmas. It reasons that if one uses Greek for part of the word they should use it for all of the word."

You also said the following, "They also parade the term like it is as biblical as the Trinity." I am assuming that you ment concept instead of term since the word Trinity isn't in Scripture either (in case you are wondering I do believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.

As much as I agree with you on how obsurd some can get in defending the term Christmas I would hope that your goal in engaging them would be to correct a perceived wrong not, as you put it, to spray pain their clothhing red "just for fun." I am not sure how Christ would be glorified in that reaction?

Anonymous said...

If Jesus is the Reason for the Season, why are so many aspects of the season pre-Christian and pagan?

Seth McBee said...

Anon.
Don't really care about traditions of man when speaking of theological understandings of God incarnate. He precedes all things, but "the season" and it's traditions aren't worth fighting over.

Anonymous said...

What theological understandings? Christmas is simply a catholic perversion of Saturnalia, which is why I am confused as to why Christians would be upset that other people see different reasons for the season: it wasn't a christian holiday to begin with until the church decided they wanted to convert pagans.

In a roundabout way, I'm agreeing with everything you said. I just find it...humorous, and if people weren't as ignorant of the historical facts as they are I'd find it even hypocritical.

Celebrate whatever you want this season, just don't act like Christians own it (or even invented it).

I've had a few of those "CHRISTmas" people when I say "Happy Holidays", and it's all I can do not to give a lecture on ancient history and the Catholic Church's tendency to incorporate pagan rituals and holidays.

So yeah, I'm actually agreeing with you.

Seth McBee said...

Anon.

hope you didn't feel like I jumped down your throat. thanks for the comment and stopping by.

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