A woman was riding on a bus when she noticed the slogan, "Keep Christ in Christmas" on a sign. "Gee," she said to her companion, "look at that. Even the churches are sticking their noses into Christmas now!"
The title of today's message is "Keep Christ in Christmas." I suppose you're thinking that I'm going to talk about how commercialized everything is becoming, and how Christ is being nudged out of just about everything, including "Merry Christmas," which has become "Happy Holidays," and even the word "Christmas," which has become X-mas. But, no, I'm not going to talk on that. I think the fact that there is all this hoopla about the words is part of the problem. The focus is on the word 'Christmas,' and not on the meaning.
First, let's deal with the ruckus about the word 'X-mas.' We have trees full of Chrismons here at Trinity Church. Chrismons are symbols that stand for Christ. The symbol reminds us of some aspect of Christ's life. The symbol points us, our minds toward Christ. If you look carefully on the tree you will see some Chrismons that are "X's" or a combination of an "X" and what looks like a "p." Those are not English letters, but Greek letters. The letter that looks like the letter "p" in our alphabet is really the Greek letter "Rho" which is equal to our letter "R." The "X" is the Greek letter "Chi" and is equal to a "CH" in English letters. The "Chi," the Greek letter that looks like our "X" is a symbol of Christ. It is the first two letters of the word "Christ." When combined with the "Rho," the Greek letter that looks like our letter "p," the symbol then stands for the first THREE letters, "Chr" of the word Christ. So, when people go on and on about 'X-mas' leaving out Christ, they don't know what they're talking about. So, now that YOU know, you can enlighten them. Again, the focus is on the word, and not on the meaning.
Benjamin Franklin said, "How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his teachings! O, 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."
Mother Teresa said, "It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you….Yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand."
"You can't spell 'brothers' and not spell 'others.' (Baptist Standard)
People go on and on about 'keeping Christ in Christmas,' and one national columnist went on and on about 'taking back Christmas.' Yet, to read his column other weeks, one is hard put to see any spirit of Christmas in his opinions or words.
"The Christmas spirit is a wonderful thing," Bob Hope once said. "It's the one time of the year when a man will give somebody a $50 watch, and the rest of the year he wouldn't give him the time of day."
People who expect salvation at the eleventh hour often die at ten-thirty.
Truly, folks, the best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to practice every day throughout the year what it is we consider to be the meaning of Christmas. The Christmas spirit that goes out with the dried-up Christmas tree is just as worthless. The problem is that Christmas comes but once a year, and Christianity comes but once a week. (Evan Essar)
We make a mockery out of Christmas when we don't practice the spirit and meaning of Christmas every day. We make a mockery out of Christmas when we focus on the word and not on the meaning. We make a mockery out of Christmas when we don't care enough to know the story as printed in the Bible. When we don't care enough to pass the story on correctly. When we don't care enough to make a connection between Christ and our gift giving. When we make Santa Claus the spirit of Christmas, leaving out any connection to Christ, the true spirit of Christmas.
He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree. (Roy. L. Smith)
It's not even the beginning of Christmas unless it's Christmas in the heart. (Richard Roberts)
The best gifts are tied with heart strings. ("Pipefuls")
We expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long list of lost opportunities for kindliness, forgiveness, and compassion of the whole year. (David Grayson)
A good conscience is a continual Christmas. (Benjamin Franklin)
As Christians we speak of peace, love, good will, hope, all part of a good conscience. That's Christmas. We get so many Christmas cards that have beautiful words in them that wish for us that the spirit and meaning of Christmas will be with us through out the whole year ahead. I've said this before. READ those cards carefully. Meditate on those words. Maybe read the cards you get each day during a family meal together. Save at least a half dozen of those cards to keep out somewhere during the whole year ahead. Keep out the ones that speak of the spirit of Christmas lasting throughout the year. Keep them out in sight. And then, in June or July, somewhere mid year, actually read them again. Anything to help you keep the spirit and meaning of Christmas alive year round.
Of course, it isn't only Christmas that helps us have compassion, be loving and giving and forgiving. Regular worship with others will strengthen us in that. Regular study of God's Word will help us be who it is we were created to be. Regular prayer time, communication with God, will help us live out our faith, be true to what we say we believe. But right now it's Christmas-time. Help keep Christ in Christmas by living out the meaning of Christmas. If folks did THAT, and did that year round, there wouldn't be any outcry about keeping Christ in Christmas.
I read that all some people want is an inoculation of Christianity-just enough of it so that they don't catch the real thing. Sometimes Christmas is no more than a "booster" shot. (Stoffregen)
In closing I want to share a poem with you that I read this week. It's one more way to be sure to keep Christ in Christmas. It's entitled, "When Jesus Called That Christmas Week."
"When Jesus Called That Christmas Week"
"When Jesus called that Christmas week I wasn't at my best;
And the house was much too cluttered to entertain a guest.
He seemed to notice everything, the cards still unaddressed;
The gifts piled high awaiting wraps, the baking and the rest.
His eyes fell on the evergreen and the presents 'neath the tree,
It's my birthday that you celebrate-what are you giving me?
'What am I giving him?' I thought; ashamed no words I found.
So many costly things I'd bought, he looked at me and frowned.
I prayed he'd let the question pass, but when he did persist,
I blurted out the truth at last, you were not on my list."
Pastor Nicholas Brie
Pastor Nicholas Brie retired from ministry in November 2008. Before then, he was the pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Taneytown, Md.