Times does to language in the long run what alcohol does quickly – it slurs words. The word ‘Christmas’ is an example of this. The word is a slur or contraction of Christ’s Mass. Mass of course is the Catholic worship service of God and Christ’s Mass is where we come together to offer the Thanksgiving Sacrifice and celebrate the birth of our Lord. Time has further shortened ‘Christmas’ to ‘Xmas’. ‘X’ comes from the Greek Xi, or Chi, and is used to abbreviate the work Christ.
For a Christian, Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus, the second greatest event in human history. The creator of everything hung up his divinity, took on human flesh, and became one of us to dwell with us and show us through his example how to live in right relationship with God and each other. He did not choose to come forth as a mighty king demanding worship, but as a tiny, fragile baby born in a cave. In the beginning God said let there be light and it was good. Then the Light chose to dwell among us and we, in our great arrogance, have tried to snuff that light out so we can live in darkness.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the Light coming into the world. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas begins with Christ and ends with Mass. Without Jesus this season becomes nothing more than a time of greed and commercialism. People all around the globe, not only children, are excited to see what they will get and many get disappointed when the gifts received don’t match expectation. All over this country there are long lasting grudges between family members over something as small as not receiving a Christmas card from the other. Christmas is a time where we celebrate the birth of the baby God and trample over each other trying to get to the deals on Black Friday.
Today I enjoyed looking at the many posts on Facebook of the way many churches have decorated their sanctuaries to prepare for the coming of the light. Let us prepare Him room so he finds a warm resting place in our hearts and no longer has to lay his head in a manger. Then I came across one that utterly upset me. It was from the Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Illinois. Heartland is the largest non-denominational church in the area and has a large following.
“Experience something more this year at a Heartland Christmas!
Great music, videos, sound, lights, and a whole lot of Christmas cheer. No tickets needed…”
Music, videos, sound, lights, and Christmas cheer. All we had was beautiful worship of Jesus. No wonder so many are leaving the conventional faith traditions for Heartland. Nowhere in their post did the word ‘Jesus’ appear. In fact this wasn’t even referred to as worship.
“Come to one or all of our 7 experiences this year!”
Worship is about giving to another. Experience is about receiving for the self. Being Christian in today’s age has become more about experience than worship. There is nothing more than Christ in Christmas and all of the great music, videos, sounds, lights, cheer, and all the presents in the world are meaningless if the birthday boy isn’t front and center. If you take Christ out of Christmas you are left with ‘mas’, which in many languages means ‘more’. Without Christ in Christmas you are left wanting more.
Did Christmas morning find you talking about what you got or what you gave? Did you have a great experience or a beautiful worship?