This week I stepped into the wonderful world of the Harper county newspaper scene. I submitted a letter to the editor for both the Harper Advocate and the aptly named Anthony Republican. Basically everything I submitted was printed. The Republican did leave out the words money we make, what our job is or isn’t, what color our skin is, what faith we claim in the last paragraph. Besides making for an incredibly awkward sentence, it lost a bit of the punch. I’m assuming that it was an innocent mistake and not a manifestation of political censorship, but I did email them just to find out for sure. In anycase, here’s the article in it’s entirety.
Taking the Christ out of Christmas
As the Christmas season swings up each year I often hear some people talk about the abbreviation for Christmas, Xmas, as taking the Christ out of Christmas. But have you ever wondered where that abbreviation came from? In Greek, the original language of the New Testament of the Bible, the word for Christ is Christos. The letter in Greek that makes the “ch” sound looks like the English X. As a result, it is a common practice for many Christians to abbreviate Christ with an X. Christians gets abbreviated Xians, Christianity into Xianity, Christmas into Xmas, and so on.
However, I would still agree that Christ is often taken out of Christmas, but for a very different reason. Jesus was a man who lived in what is now Israel/Palestine. He lived his life as a homeless man, often not knowing where his next meal would come from. He was born to an unwed mother in a barn out behind a motel and his first bed was a cattle trough. His birth was attended not by the wealthy and powerful but by poor, uneducated shepherds. Jesus was a man who cared deeply for the poor and the oppressed and taught that those who had more than they needed should sell all they had and give it to the poor.
It seems to me that this Jesus might not recognize the holiday we now call Christmas. We now live in a world where Christmas usually means spending money that we don’t have and eating food that many of us don’t need to. This Christmas season, especially, is going to be very difficult for many in our community. As you think about the ways to let your loved ones know how much you care, think about these things as you do your holiday shopping.
– Buy local. There are people out of work right here in our community. Shopping locally keeps your hard earned dollars in the community and creates and keeps jobs for others. If we like having a variety of businesses in our community, that means intentionally shopping there so that they will still be here in the long run.
– Focus on gifts with meaning. Christmas is a time to celebrate with the ones that we love. With the uncertain economy ahead, we all need to be careful about how we spend our money. What counts is the love behind the gift, not how deep into credit card debt we went to get the gift.
– Give to those who really need it. Many of us will be able to afford things, like presents and a table full of food, that are normally present at Christmas. There are many people in our community will not be able to afford those things. Consider making a donation to the food bank, the Salvation Army, the Angel Tree, your Church or another local aid organization that will make a Christmas possible for some people who are having trouble making all the ends meet.
This Christmas season, let’s all come together to truly support each other, regardless of how much money we make, what our job is or isn’t, what color our skin is, what faith we claim, or even whether we live in Harper or Anthony. This year, let’s put the real Christ back into Christmas.
Pastor of Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church