Merry Xmas 2008

Keeping Christ in Xmas

I have been using my own special shorthand since Middle School. I sign emails as well as letters with just an initial rather than my name. In Seminary, the volume of note-taking became massive and I developed a theological shorthand. Xn = Christian, X = Christ, and Xty = Christianity. God = a Greek theta (which I cannot display on my blog). The list of theological abbreviations grew quite large by the time I completed two degrees.

In the original language of the New Testament, Christ starts with the letter Chi which looks like our X. Early Christians used the symbol of a fish to identify one another. Why a fish? Fish in Greek is Ichthus, which makes a nifty acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” (Iesous Christos, Theou Uios, Soter)

So, I have always written Christmas as Xmas. I tried to shorten it to MC but people kept asking me about a rapper from long ago. Therefore, Merry Xmas still prevails.

This seemingly innocent abbreviation has gotten some really bad press over the years. Folks with too much time (and so-called spirituality) have sounded off on the practice repeatedly. It has always been a bit amusing to me how and why people get so worked up over the practice. Especially given the fact that I had never been the target of such a tirade. Until now that is.

In an online text message with a social networking site that shall remain nameless, I have made an enemy for life. I have left Christ out of Xmas. I should be flogged, disbarred, and ex-communicated. I should immediately return my Seminary degrees and forfeit my ordination papers. Bad preacher. I have left Christ out of Christmas by using Xmas.

Can we be honest for just a second? I have difficulty when someone decries my uses of Xmas while maxing out their credit cards at Christmas. When they wrap their house in lights, erect a tree, sing about the season, bake cookies, have a feast, entertain the children, go on a hayride, skip work and generally have a social orgy while ignoring the birth of Jesus, I get more than a bit steamed.

While I have indeed left Christ out of Xmas linguistically, our family never omits the far more important aspect of Christmas. Christmas is not, “all about the children.” It is more than “Season’s Greetings” we should be discussing. Christmas is not about Santa, Frosty or even Rudolf. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus so that He may deliver us from sin. Increasingly, the festivities of the holidays mask and even displace the true meaning of Christmas. Families are so busy buying more than they can afford for their children, they forget to teach the essential truths of the Christmas Story.

So in our family, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We give gifts to Kingdom causes that are sacrificial and meaningful. We have reduced our own gift giving year after year so that the true meaning of Christmas would not be muffled.

Merry Xmas,