The term ‘X-mas’ allegedly offends people because it supposedly takes Christ out of Christmas. Nothing could be further from the truth, but maybe this is all about appearances for some. We nevertheless live with a very different Christmas offence which is rather more anti-Christian in nature, one that is fuelled by the modern tendency to recoil at any treatment believed to be unfair or judgmental. While sensitivity is naturally important, so-called rights sadly override those of others on the presumption of majority opinion. But suppression of the reason for the season needs some redress. Why meekly succumb to misplaced misgivings?
Every December, we hear of the ludicrous idea that people are somehow offended by Christmas. Seriously? Who? How many? We live in a nation where almost two-thirds still identify themselves as Christians, where our societal structures are based on Christian principles and where Christmas itself is logically and innately Christian. Churches have had plenty of bad press – some is deserved, whereas much is simply prejudiced – but it is not being forced on the masses. So, do we really need to imagine offence on behalf of the non-Christian religious and atheists when they are simply not protesting at something they are happy to adapt to?
Yes, Christmas festivities are derived from the pagan Roman Saturnalia celebrations, but the early church commandeered the event to Christianise an established practice and assert the pre-eminence of Christ. Yes, Christmas trees appear to derive from ancient pagan practices condemned in Jeremiah 10:3-4, but we don’t nowadays associate with ancient idolatries in our Christ-honouring celebrations. Whereas Halloween overtly connects to witchcraft in popular culture and is surely therefore taboo for Christians, the major faults of Christmas are merely its customisation and commercialisation. Christians can boldly and passionately proclaim Christmas’s inherent announcement of Jesus’ gift of eternal life and its association with the good news of the Christian Gospel.
Even well-meaning, but misguided, opposition to the convenient X-mas abbreviation can see us waste the opportunity to bring hope to people looking for a compass at Christmas. The earliest ‘Christ-mass’ was simply a church service celebrated by Greek-speakers who revered Jesus as ‘Christos’; in their language that name simply began with a capital X. Confidently asserting the Good News of Christ’s coming at Christmas can take advantage of any given opportunity to bring the power and joy of Christ to the many who still need to find Him.
‘X-mas starts with Jesus’; imagine the conversations that little meme could open up!