Monday, December 15, 2014

How Do You Spell Christmas?

Gledelig Jul-Norwegian,
"ubha nath thalak Vewa!"-Sri Lankan,
I had a conversation on Saturday that I'd like to share with you.  I was in a meeting at my church. We were planning for the future - visioning.  I was recording the notes from our small groups on large poster paper so we could all see.  One of our groups had developed a lot of good ideas and they were coming fast and furious, so as I was writing I abbreviated the word Christmas with X-mas, intending to go back when we finished and write out the word.  Before I could do it, one of the folks around the table (a person who would very much enjoy my error) pointed out the abbreviation and requested that it be corrected.  'It really bothered him.'
I have been watching the facebook posts over the past few weeks about the disagreement over Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and I must admit I have to ask, what's the big deal?  Now I know, when I write this, that most assuredly I will get the most responses I have ever gotten trying to reform my thinking and clarify the difference.  No doubt, I am not as smart as others who seem to 'get it.'
But here is my point.  When I wrote X-mas, I was writing Christmas. In no way was I "X-ing out Christ."  What a foolish thing to say!  So I got to thinking about these arbitrary symbols that we use to communicate.  As you can see above, there are vast and asunder symbols to represent the word Christ and Christmas.  And then I got to thinking about God and what He would think about all of this fallderall and fiddledeedee.

As I was looking for some history about this issue this is what I found: It a common misconception that the use of the term "Xmas" instead of "Christmas" spelled out was started by those who hate Christianity and who want Christ to be removed from society. Actually, the term "Χmas" has religious origins. It is not some kind of X-ing out of Christ. In fact, the Χ is not a Roman X at all, but the Greek letter chi -- Χ (Lowercase : χ) -- which looks something like the Latin X. Chi (χ) and rho (ρ) are the two letters in ancient Greek that begin the name Christos [Christ]. The chi-rho (☧) was used on the standards of Constantine's Roman army when he defeated Maxentius and brought Christianity into the Roman Empire as its official religion in the early fourth century. It is frequently used in the orphrey of traditional vestments.

So, "Χmas" is actually a more ancient form, in a way, recalling to our minds the origins of our Faith, in which Greek, as well, as Latin, is paramount in Tradition.

Here is my conclusion (and, again, I'm certain there will be those that will assuredly correct me)...
God could care less about our symbols of communication or how we spell a word, even His word.  What He cares about is our heart.  You see, I'm not worried that God is angry with me for X-mas.  He knows my heart and He knows that I love Him and put Him first in my life.  My relationship with God is a good one.  He knows that I would NEVER X him out.  He doesn't care whether we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.  What He cares about is that we are loving each other and serving each other and worshipping Him.  You can use the words Merry Christmas every time, but if your heart is not God's, He will and does know.  Instead of spending all this time on this debate, wouldn't it be better to spend it in service to someone this holiday season and, yes, I said holiday season.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's  and ALL of the holidays...serving, giving, loving, worshipping.  Isn't this a better use of our time and energy?
This whole debate seems so foolish to me.  You know, beyond the Ten Commandments there are 613 rules in the Bible about how to love and serve our God and live our lives.  Jesus was not born to do away with the rules, he said so, but He was born to teach us two things about the rules:  Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength AND to Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  If you do these two things, then all the other rules will fall in line.  Jesus pointed out that we get so caught up in the rules that we forget the relationships.  That's what His message was all about.  That's what He did.  LOVE - loving Him and loving each other.  I am pretty certain He doesn't care how we spell it.  He's more concerned about how we do it.
So I'll not apologize for my 'mistake.'  God knows my shorthand and my heart.  I don't have to worry about all of the others who worry so much!

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

Luke 10:27


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