It’s that time of year again. Outcries come from many corners of our nation that evil forces are seeking to destroy the spirit of the Christmas season.
From the red cups of Starbucks to the use of Xmas, many are saying these are signs of our decaying society and its downward moral slide from the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.
Yes, there is a “war on Christmas,” but I wish to challenge the popular view of assault on this holiday while questioning who might really be the foot soldiers of the forces assaulting Christmas and its true meaning.
What we who call ourselves Christians fail to understand is that culture did not remove Christ from Christmas. We Christians did. We have permitted and wholeheartedly joined the forces that have transformed Advent, the period from late November to Dec. 24, from a time of waiting and watching for the coming birth of the “Prince of Peace” to one of hyper-consumerism and the worship of stuff.
I do not think stores that have holiday sales are the attackers. I don’t think it is towns that remove nativity scenes from their public parks. I don’t believe it’s the public schools that insist that Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist children not be asked to sing songs of a faith different from their own.
The greatest attack on Christmas is from within. The “war on Christmas” comes from those of us who claim our greatest hope comes from the fact that God became a real person, a person of justice, love, compassion and grace, and then we act nothing like that Jesus.
The abbreviation of Xmas for Christmas is neither contemporary, disrespectful nor of an evil origin. Actually this usage is nearly as old as Christianity itself. Its origins lie in the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, which is “chi” and is represented in Greek by a figure similar to X. Therefore, Xmas is a perfectly and historically accurate abbreviation for the word Christmas, just as Xian is sometimes used as an abbreviation for the term Christian.
A quote from Steve Maraboli in his “Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience” caught my attention. He wrote: “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 to others as you would have done to you.”
For me, I believe that keeping Christ in Christmas has little to do with what others choose to do and everything to do with who we, as Christians, choose to be.
Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas.
The writer lives in Princeton.