Merry Xmas! Yep, that’s right, I said – “Xmas.” And let me tell you why …
First of all, X has always been a suitable abbreviation for me, and for Christians going way back to earliest days when the Greek letter “chi” or “x” was first used as an abbreviation for Christ. As a student in theology almost every lecture I can remember attending in college and seminary featured professors scribbling “Xst” or “Xtians” on the chalk board, the theological shorthand for Christ or Christians. So “X” does not bother me at all. “X” has always been an accepted way of referring to Christ. Consequently, Merry “Xmas” has never offended me. I have never interpreted the “X” as a way of “cancelling out” Christ or taking “the reason” out of the season!
And second, if you really want to put Christ back into Christmas, I believe that “X” might actually be the best way to do it! It’s not uncommon in our culture for “X” to mean “extra” or “extreme.” One example is the “X-Games” which features the so called “extreme” sports. To put Christ back into Christmas is not some kind of word game featuring battles between “Christmas vs. Xmas” or “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays,” but rather taking the Christmas story seriously and engaging in its radical, “extreme” nature, making an “extra” effort to live out the love of God as found in the life, death, and teachings of Jesus.
At Christmas God becomes flesh to live among us and to teach us about love, God become flesh to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, God becomes flesh to dwell within each of us. Christmas is not about holiday greetings but rather “being of the same mind as Jesus,” putting on flesh and becoming human to those around us. It’s about becoming humble, giving up the glory of heaven to be a servant. It’s about entering into poverty because there is no room in the inn. It’s about a life that leads to carrying a cross, a life of sacrificial love, – living on earth for the purposes of heaven. Christmas is not a sentimental consumer religious event. Christmas is an “extreme “act of radical love! Maybe putting Christ back into Christmas means placing an “X” in front of it!