Often at Christmas time, we hear people talk about how Christ is being kept out of Christmas.
What do they mean?
Often, they are objecting to that common abbreviation, Xmas. Perhaps you’ve seen our church sign, which has ‘Xmas Eve’ and ‘Xmas Day’. Have we taken the Christ out of Christmas?
You know, there are people who say, ’We don’t worship X!’ ‘We worship Christ! It’s Christmas, not Xmas!’
You know what the problem is with that? We did it first. We Christians put the ‘X’ there first.
The first Greek letter of Christ looks to us like an X. It’s actually called ‘Chi’. So the letter Chi—‘X’—is a shortening of Christ. And what we pronounce ‘Xmas’ is just a shortening of Christmas.
Why was Chi, ‘X’, used as an abbreviation for Christ in the early days of Christian faith? It’s simple, really. Paper was a rare commodity in those days, so they shortened words so they could fit more words in. They didn’t even use punctuation!
So we can shorten the word Christmas today, where space is scarce—like on our church sign outside.
Writing ‘Xmas’ doesn’t take Christ out of Christmas. Not one bit.
But there is a very simple way to take Christ out of Christmas, and it is this: forget the poor.
If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, we remember the poor. Someone has said,
Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.
And I’d add, come to church so you can be part of a community that is trying to encourage one another to live that way.
When God entered the world as a human being, he came in poverty. He chose the mucky room for the animals over a king’s palace.
When God entered the world as a human being, he was a defenceless newborn. Mary and Joseph were totally responsible for his welfare. He could have just come down from the sky wearing a crown and carrying a sword, with a train of ten thousand angels. He would’ve been more easily believed!
When God entered the world as a human being, he taught two things:
Love the Lord your God with everything you have.
Love your neighbour as yourself.
Oh—and, if you didn’t love your neighbour, you could hardly say you love God.
All the rest, the parables, the healings, all of it was illustrative material, ways of helping us see that God’s way of life is coming and it is true.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is about loving your neighbour. For example: when we total up what we’ve spent this Christmas, we may say, ‘I’ve spent too much! I can’t afford to give to the Christmas Bowl.’ When we do that, we fail the ‘love your neighbour’ test, and we throw Christ our of our Christmas.
At the first Christmas, God became human. Let’s follow God’s example and be humane.
As we eat and drink, as we listen to carols and sing them in and out of tune, let’s do this one thing: Keep Christ in Christmas. Love your neighbour.