Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Get X Out of Xmas"

This was posted on a messageboard on which I mostly lurk nowadays, but it really spoke to me this morning and I wanted to share it here:

OK, for something completely different - I've been thinking about why"keep Christ in Christmas" bothers me (but what doesn't these days?) Nobody kept Christ in Christmas the first time. (OK, maybe Mary) Andwhat kind of Christ is it that we can put into, or keep out of,Christmas? It's all I can do to keep up with him, much less keep him in, out, or anywhere!

My sermon thought on Christmas Eve - it's more important to keep Christ in Thursday than to keep him in Christmas. Thursday comes 52 times a year more often, for one thing. When we're all mellow and tender at Christmas time we hardly feel the need for him anyway. Thursday, though - when you've lost your temper and smacked your kid,or you're wondering why the hades you ever got into this vocation -THAT's when you need Christ.

Alternate Christmas Eve sermon thought - get Christ out of Christmas.We've been trying to keep him in for the last 50 years to no great effect that I can see. For 50 years I've heard whining about the commercialism of Christmas (done it myself) and over that same timeperiod more stores are open more hours selling more crap than ever before. So maybe trying to keep Christ in Christmas is counterproductive. Maybe it's time to stop trying to baptize a pagan holiday, worship God on Thursday (see above) or any other day, and let Christmas run it's commercially driven, self-congratulatory, Dickens-centered, emotionally overloaded, conspicuously consumptive way.

Merry Christmas to you too!


Anonymous said...

That first paragraph of that comment is terrific!

It loses its way toward the end, though.

Christmas is hardly a pagan holiday, though it was instituted in December as a response to the winter pagan festivals. I forget what year but it only had three digits.

And Dickens? The commenter ought to read A Christmas Carol more closely.

Good point though, Jeff. I like the whole "Keep Christ in Thursday" idea. I may borrow it myself.

Jeff Nelson said...

I think that in the context of his overall statement, his mention of Dickens has more to do with the sentimentality it evokes than the message, which I agree is actually quite good.

And with any major Christian holiday such as Christmas, there comes the recognition of pagan elements: evergreens, wreaths, the significance of Dec. 25th...but I only cite "pagan influences" when confronted with arguments that Christmas was purely Christian right from the start (and I do the opposite when people try to proclaim Halloween as purely pagan).

shelly said...

Christmas is hardly a pagan holiday, though it was instituted in December as a response to the winter pagan festivals. I forget what year but it only had three digits.

Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on, I believe, January 6 (it's also known as the Epiphany).

Constantine co-opted the festival of Saturnalia--celebrated on December 25--to become Christmas in the third century, as his own crafty way of getting the pagans to convert. Christmas trees, Yule logs, and mistletoe all originated out of Saturnalia, too; but anyone who celebrates Christmas--Christian or not--uses at least one of the three in decorating every year.

Most Biblical scholars would tell you that Christ was really born sometime during the summer months. Maybe a better idea would be to move Christmas to June or July. ;)

Easter was also co-opted from the pagans. Just substitute Saturnalia for Mithras, and December for March/April.