Wednesday, December 21, 2011

X in Christmas

My friend, Jacob, is writing some interesting material about the present Advent/Christmas season. See the link Blogismos on this page for what he's saying. I want to develop a little more a particular thought that he's expressed. It all relates to the idea of "taking Christ out of Christmas." That statement seems to be a regular feature of every Christmas season. The idea is that when folk use the word Xmas, they are removing Christ and substituting the letter x which in turn makes the whole episode a secular enterprise. And, oh, do the alarm bells go off when that happens!

A little background to that word and how it is used. The rendering (and it has been around for a long time) involves not the use of the letter x but the Greek letter X (in English, spelled chi and pronounced like "key") which looks like a capital x. This X is actually the first letter of the word transliterated as Christos, which, of course, means Christ or Messiah and has long been a symbol for that term.

I tried to explain this during a Wednesday evening study many years ago. I will not forget the look of the woman on the back row as she folded her arms, shot daggers at me with her eyes and mouthed the words, "I don't care what it means, I don't like it."

And therein is the rub. There is something I may not understand. It's different from the norm that I follow. And I will not accept it, no matter how it is explained. Even if Xmas means the very same thing that others mean when they say Christmas, maybe even more so.

The loudest voices say we are taking Christ out of Christmas. Question: How do we human beings manage to "take" Christ out of anything? Do we have that kind of power? Such frivilousness falls in the same category as saying that "we kick God out of school when we do not allow public prayer." Really? Seriously??? We are going to be able to "kick" God anywhere? Jesus said something about praying in our closet which translates to me that the nature of prayer is such that one does not need an organized setting and a vocal prayer in front of a microphone for prayer to occur. Prayer can happen anytime, anywhere--rising from deep within us without a sound ever being uttered. But I digress (bad habit of mine).

Can we not stop dividing life into the sacred and the secular? God is present everywhere. Christ calls us forth in the area dedicated to public worship and in the extreme messiness of any aspect of the marketplace.

It's not an x. It's X (Chi). And it means Christ. Can we not find a way to get over this one?

Merry Xmas!

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