3rd Tuesday of Advent

Χ-Mass

Philippians 2:5-11

 5 Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
6 Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
7 But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
8  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11 and every tongue confess
            that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Reflection

It is common to walk around town and sees signs saying “Merry Χ-Mas”, and accompanying those signs are people grumbling that the store is “removing Christ from Christmas.”  It is a sad thing that many people do not understand that this is ancient Christian way of writing Christmas and that the first letter is not an “X” signaling the deleting of a name, but it is the Greek letter Chi.  Scribes through history have been so pious that they thought they were unworthy to write the name Χριστος (Christ) so they would substitute the letter Χ for it.  This practice was similar to the Jewish scribes who would not write the name of God and instead wrote YHWH and often adding the vowels of “Lord” so the name could not be easily read.  Christmas was originally spelled Christ Mass and the use of the Chi for an abbreviation was natural.  Because the “Χ” symbol is very common in churches, the use of Χ-Mas was natural within the populace.  Modern American Christians are unaware of the use of Χ-Mas because they are less familiar with the Greek alphabet than generations past, and less accustom to the symbols used in church décor.

The use of Χ-Mas shows a reverence for Christ and Christmas that we often do not see today.  In our age Christmas is celebrated in an almost flippant way; maybe it is time to recapture some of the sacredness of the season.  This, in part, is the reason for discovering the traditions behind our celebrations.  Grasping the meanings of traditions helps us maintain our respect for the holiday.  We are often upset by the secularization of the season, but maybe if we were more sensitive to how unworthy we are to speak the name “Christ”, we could recapture the holiness and true joy of Christmas.  As happy and joyous as this season is, it is also solemn and sacred and we need symbols to help remind us of both aspects of it.  May we all keep this season sacred; let’s keep the Chi in Χ-Mas.

Most Holy God, I humbly pray that you keep me mindful of your holiness, lest I become confident in myself, guard me from trying to pull you off your throne, remind me that it is only by your grace that I may pray, in the name above all names, Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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