Last Sunday, December 8th, something interesting happened during my children’s sermon. The normal stuff occurred: kids mostly paid attention, there was a scramble for candy, and there was the occasional chuckle. No, what was interesting was that an argument arose between two boys. What was the argument about, you ask? How to say the word “Christmas.”
One kid said it the way you probably just read, the way that most of the world says it, “Christmas.” But the other boy, emphatically I might add, said, “CHRIST-mas.” He emphasized the “Christ” part. Loudly. And they went back and forth a few times before I got them refocused on the children’s sermon.
I found this argument very interesting. Often, during the Christmas season, you see all sorts of stuff in the media and on Facebook about keeping the “Christ” in “Christmas.” Just “Google” that phrase and you will find over 14 million search results. You will see all sorts of activities and ways you can keep Christ in Christmas as a family, a person, community, etc. Google “war on Christmas” and you get over 868 million results.
I find this all a little amusing and absurd. I think about a post I saw from a friend: “The only one who can take Christ out of Christmas is you.” I like that. Christmas is not about what you can say on a store front window or what some group or another thinks. Frankly, it is all about you. If the birth of Christ is the primary focus for your celebration on December 25th, then I think Christmas will be just fine. Jesus Christ is going to be born to save us sinners no matter what. Christ is going to continue to die and rise from the grave no matter what.
I play Santa every year at our elementary school, but that doesn’t mean the birth of Christ isn’t my focus during this time of year. My joy at this time of year doesn’t come from Santa, even the Santa Yoda that is in my yard. My joy is because my God loves me so much he sent his only Son to be born into our messy and sinful world to save me. I am not filled with hope because of the presents I get underneath my tree. I’m filled with hope because God has given me the ultimate gift of faith and eternal life.
No matter how you say it or what goes on in the world, Christmas belongs to Christ because his birth, and our salvation, is the reason we celebrate to begin with. For the light of the world shines in the darkness of our lives, and the darkness will never, EVER, overcome it.