.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






25 December 2015

Putting the “X” Back in Xmas


Christmas Tree Those of us whose vocations involve writing or speaking about religion often see in the major holy days a two-edged sword. On one hand, most of the pastors I know could roll out of bed at three o’clock in the morning and preach decent, Christ-centered Christmas or Easter sermons.

However, familiarity of the subject means the risk of falling into annual ruts, operating on mental cruise control: “There are so many things to get done; I’m sure this sermon will prepare itself and all I need to do is preach.”

The tonic isn’t novelty for novelty’s sake. We dare not invent new theology in an attempt to keep the message “fresh” or “relevant.” Even if we find a new approach to the age-old story, we must take care lest we descend into cuteness that undercuts the awesome majesty and humble mystery of the Word made Flesh who “dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth (John 1:14).”

During Christmastide, another pitfall oft befalling Christian pastors, teachers, and writers is a straw man mentality. We can latch on to convenient targets outside the group we’re addressing, setting the mentality of “us (good Christians) against them (everyone who doesn’t do Christmas like we do).”

Pastor and Santa Each year, well-meaning Christians condemn commercialism, consumerism, and the mixing of the sacred and the secular. Pastors, especially, may rail at “Santa Christian,” who, like the other Santa, only visits us (or our churches) once each year. Other believers circulate petitions or organize boycotts against companies whose employees greet us with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Of course, focusing on the sins and shortcomings of others means that we can overlook our own sins. Sinners rarely mind the preaching of the Law — as long as it isn’t directed at them. And when God’s harsh Law is misapplied to our sinful selves, the His sweet, saving Gospel may likewise have diminished impact.

Bottom line: I can almost guarantee that everywhere in the free world where Christians gather, someone’s going to be demanding that they — whomever “they” might be — “put the ‘Christ’ back in Christmas.” And yes, this is important, but not today’s central theme.

Christ Mass “Christ” is the first of two words in the compound word “Christmas.” However, “Mass,” the often neglected second fiddle, remains important, whether we acknowledge it or not. Therefore, I’ll join others in arguing that we also need to keep Christ’s Mass (His holy Supper) as an integral part of our Christmas celebration. After all, does the physicality of the Incarnation find any clearer earthly expression than when we actually eat the holy body and drink the precious blood of the Babe of Bethlehem?

But we’re not going to talk about that, either. Instead, we’re taking a look at another believers’ bugaboo, the (mis-) use of the letter X. Among many well intentioned Christians, X has fallen into ill repute. This is too bad, because he sports a noble pedigree and once enjoyed a distinguished career and great honor among his fellow letters. After all, where would algebra be without X? And try to imagine all of those pirate stories devoid of maps reminding the treasure hunter that “X marks the spot.”

Nevertheless, some devout Christians strongly object to using this one letter — X — to replace (or “X out”) six letters — C-H-R-I-S-T — in the word “Christmas.” They don’t want to be numbered among the secularists who try to avoid the whole religious, Christian thingie by using the Xmas shorthand for Jesus’ birthday. However, what most unbelievers don’t realize (and what far too many Christians have forgotten or else never knew) is that X has been “standing in” for Christ for centuries.

XP The word Christ begins with the Greek letter Chi. Chi looks like this: X. Because X also reminds many Christians of a cross, the symbolism becomes even stronger. Chi doesn’t always work alone. Sometimes he partners with Rho. This gets a bit tricky, because the Rho has the sound of our English letter R but looks like this: P. In Christian art and symbolism, you may see the two letters superimposed. Some people mistakenly read and pronounce this symbol as PX (Pee Ex). Actually, it’s the Chi Rho (ΧΡ) — the first two letters of ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, the Greek word for Christ.

It doesn’t matter to the unbeliever if we use Christmas or Xmas. The pagan cares little how Christians write the name of a holiday because he doesn’t acknowledge it as a holy day. We, however, know that in this instance, “X marks the spot ... of Christ!” It remains the Feast of His Nativity even if the world only knows the earthly feasting and, perhaps, some time off from work.

Most Christians celebrate God’s gift-giving by giving or receiving Christmas gifts. We try to keep somewhere in mind the great Gift of Christmas, the birth of our Savior. Meanwhile, the unbeliever gets involved in gift “exchanges” — and if you trade for it, it ain’t a gift. Sadly, even we Christians often forget that true gifts are only given, never traded ... unless....

“Unless what?” you ask.

“Unless,” I reply, “X helps solve the math in a bit of ‘divine algebra.’”

Let’s see how many ways we could plug X into our Xmas equation. We may talk about X-ing something out. We know that X may mean Christ. X also signifies cross and crucifixion. (The X-shaped Cross Saltire is actually the symbol of St. Andrew in ecclesiastical art.) X marks the spot of the treasure. X also replaces or stands in for something else in an algebraic equation. Amazingly, all of these fit.

Crucifixion As we do our Xmas math, we discover a true gift eXchange. It goes like this: X [Christ] X [stood in for] sinners both in perfectly keeping the Law and then by innocently bearing God’s punishment for our sins on the X [cross]. When we look in faith to “Jesus X [Christ] and Him Xified [crucified], (1 Corinthians 2:2)” we see that X marks the spot where we receive the great treasure — the three-fold gift of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. We don’t offer something in eXchange; the Gift of X [Christ] is the eXchange.

X [Christ] X-ed out our sins, our guilt, and our shame. Since X [Christ] X [replaced] us under God’s judgment, X [Christ] also freely eXchanges His worth for our worthlessness, His holiness for our vileness, His wealth for our poverty, and X [replaces] the Law’s condemnation with God’s favor. X [Christ] who was “poured out like water (Psalm 22:14)” on the X [cross] eXchanges our emptiness for the fullness of God’s love, pouring Himself into overflowing cups of joy (Psalm 23:5).

The Xmas hymn Let Us All with Gladsome Voice celebrates the completely one-sided nature of this great eXchange. Its third stanza invites all Xians to join in singing, “We are rich, for he was poor; Is not this a wonder? Therefore praise God evermore Here on earth and yonder.”

Merry Xmas and Happy Holy Days!

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, hymn writer, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

35 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

Are our pastors telling us the truth?

Is there really a "mountain of evidence" for the Resurrection of Jesus as our pastors tells us, or is this belief based solely on assumptions, second century hearsay, superstitions, and giant leaps of faith? Check out this Lutheran pastor's defense of the Resurrection and a review by one of his former parishioners who lost his faith and is now an nonbeliever primarily due to the lack of good evidence for the Resurrection:

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2016/06/a-review-of-lcms-pastor-john-bombaros.html

15 June, 2016 14:42  
Blogger Unknown said...

Now comes the stop of the paper in which all you have to deal with is the conclusion or result of your expression paper. In summary you restate your thesis but in distinct words, and sums up your position. www.procustomwriting.com can give a recap of some of the major points of your paper. If you want to impress your professor, you can mention the implications for long term analysis. Therefore, the ending should make the reader feel that he acquired your point clearly.

13 December, 2016 07:00  
Blogger MEW said...

Not all pastors are telling the truth because many of them hold the truth in unrighteousness.

19 February, 2018 18:40  
Blogger Unknown said...



https://tvskybox.com
7500 iptv channels only 5 euro/usd
/europe/usa/asia/arabic/latino/russian channels....

08 December, 2018 08:03  
Blogger Nature Power said...

We always enjoy your articles its inspired a lot by reading your articles day by day. So please accept my thanks and congrats for success of your latest series. We hope, you should published more better articles like ever before
SunPro+

07 September, 2020 03:40  
Blogger Kiran Infertility Center Chennai said...

Kiran Infertility Centre – Chennai’ is one of the best IVF Treatment in Chennai providing world-class treatment options like IVF, ICSI, Oocyte Donation, Surrogacy and Oocyte/Embryo freezing. https://kicchennai.com/

28 September, 2020 05:28  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Also folgende Leasing Angebote dürft ihr euch echt nicht entgehen lassen! https://www.gute-rate.de/

19 November, 2020 13:39  
Blogger emblix solutions said...

Today, Emblix as one of the best and top most service-oriented Digital Marketing Agency in Hyderabad and India , Which provides high-quality result-oriented Digital Services ranging from SEO to Web Design, Social Media Marketing and more, to a broad spectrum of clients from diverse industry segments. Through a well-oiled combination of Quality Solutions, Transparent Pricing, helping brands connect with customers, Flexible Delivery & Contract Model with a firm commitment to deliver on time and to budget, Emblix has successfully built a strong relationship with clients based on mutual trust and respect. Further, Emblix’s extensive market experience and expertise in Digital Marketing helps clients in successfully managing data as a strategic asset.
/Facebook marketing company in Hyderabad

24 November, 2020 07:29  
Blogger emblix solutions said...

/Best Facebook ads company in hyderabad
Today, Emblix as one of the best and top most service-oriented Digital Marketing Agency in Hyderabad and India , Which provides high-quality result-oriented Digital Services ranging from SEO to Web Design, Social Media Marketing and more, to a broad spectrum of clients from diverse industry segments. Through a well-oiled combination of Quality Solutions, Transparent Pricing, helping brands connect with customers, Flexible Delivery & Contract Model with a firm commitment to deliver on time and to budget, Emblix has successfully built a strong relationship with clients based on mutual trust and respect. Further, Emblix’s extensive market experience and expertise in Digital Marketing helps clients in successfully managing data as a strategic asset

14 December, 2020 00:58  
Blogger marvel geospatial said...

Thanks for sharing the great article.
We at Marvel Geospatial, provide an ultimate Geospatial Solution with accurate data mapping and management. Our service includes GIS, BIM and LiDAR mounted UAVs.
Marvel Geospatia

15 December, 2020 13:56  
Blogger KP Webtech said...

Wordpress Development Company in Chennai

We deliver custom Wordpress websites that are high in style and solid in substance. As masters of the Wordpress web publishing platform and are ready to share expertise as a top custom Wordpress development company to help you scale new heights.

Wordpress has for long been a favourite among programmers due to its multiple possibilities and availability of numerous plugins. Statistics show that over 60 million people (and growing) use Wordpress for website development.
As the best Wordpress development company in Chennai, KP Webtech empowers you with agile and scalable solutions to satisfy all your needs right from content management to marketing with our Wordpress solutions. Secure, user-centric, elegant and scalable, Wordpress ticks all the boxes to be the platform of choice for web development. While the Wordpress website development cost in Chennai is variable, we can offer flexible packages to suit your needs and ensure absolute satisfaction at every step.

WordPress developer in Chennai

Taking a consultative Approach and Becoming the Leading WordPress developer in Chennai

KP Webtech is not a run-of-the-mill web development company in Chennai. We are technically sound and believe in implementing principles of design thinking and a consultative approach. While our previous blog showcased our design thinking approach, the present blog delivers insight on how we use a consultative approach to become the best WordPress developer in Chennai and a top Woocommerce Development Company in Chennai. As a top website development company in Chennai and web design company in chennai, KP Webtech has helped brands launch, grow and thrive and this article throws light on how we achieved success stories with some case studies to support.

26 December, 2020 13:22  
Blogger emblix solutions said...

/Best Facebook ads company in hyderabad
Today,emblix ranging from SEO to Web Design, Social Media Marketing and more, to a broad spectrum of clients from diverse industry segments. Through a well-oiled combination of Quality Solutions, Transparent Pricing, helping brands connect with customersEmbli

02 January, 2021 04:25  
Blogger Dextra Technologies said...

Dextra Technologies is a WordPress Development Company in Chennai, India specialized in custom web development and SEO marketing Services and Solutions with new implementing thoughts.

08 January, 2021 05:19  
Blogger marvelgeospatial said...

Thanks for sharing the great article.
We at Marvel Geospatial, provide an ultimate Geospatial Solution with accurate data mapping and management. Our service includes GIS, BIM and LiDAR mounted UAVs.
Marvel Geospatial

09 January, 2021 05:49  
Blogger Dextra Technologies said...

Dextra Technologies is a WordPress Development Company in Chennai, India specialized in custom web development and SEO marketing Services and Solutions with new implementing thoughts.

13 January, 2021 00:17  
Blogger divvidivya said...

Nice Blog. For all Best Digital Marketing Services In Hyderabad visit 9and9.

18 January, 2021 04:16  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nice blog Thanks for sharing from 9and9
Internet Marketing Companies in Hyderabad

02 February, 2021 02:25  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Dieser Blog ist wirklich interessant! Falls ihr auf der Suche nach einem Immobilien Makler Stuttgart seid, dann lege ich euch diesen ans Herz: https://www.pflugfelder.de/unternehmen/immobilienmakler-stuttgart

04 February, 2021 08:53  
Blogger Sina Nier said...

Hattet ihr schonmal ein Landrover Leasing? Ich habe da ein Angebot gefunden und nun geht es mir nicht mehr aus dem Kopf! https://www.gute-rate.de/fahrzeuge/marken/land-rover/

07 February, 2021 03:02  
Blogger Unknown said...

Best Digital Marketing Company in Hyderabad- 9and9 DigiSoft Insights Private Limited
9and9 DigiSoft is a leading and Top Digital Marketing Agency in Hyderabad focused on empowering and influence Brands through SEO, SEM, Social Media and Email marketing
https://9and9.com/
9912891000
contact@9and9.com

17 February, 2021 02:22  
Blogger Satta Matka said...

wow its a nice article and get the most useful information from this website and I had bookmarked this website
for the future access. https://sattamatkaa.net
beacuse after reading this article I got the very usefull information from your website and I hope you will
Satta matka keep writing this type of content.

18 February, 2021 02:01  
Anonymous janvi said...

Thanks for sharing this info.
DOOH Trends in 2021
Locations for Pre Wedding Shoots in Indore

24 February, 2021 05:41  
Blogger Satta Matka said...

Very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better. Satta Matka

01 March, 2021 22:46  
Blogger Satta Matka said...

Very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better. Satta Matka

01 March, 2021 22:47  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Was für eine Sortiertechnik nutzt ihr? https://www.joest.com/

07 March, 2021 16:12  
Blogger Jon Hendo said...

the report is an assessment of the top vendors in the market and does not represent the entire vendor landscape. event marketing and post event email

21 March, 2021 07:09  
Blogger Usman Awais said...

Pitch deck design services
Best pitch deck design service

25 March, 2021 08:30  
Blogger kloudwifi said...

Thanks for sharing this information
With more than a decade of experience in working on Cisco Meraki Solutions, we are an established partner that provides sound networking solutions. We help customers migrate their IT infrastructure to the Full Stack of Cisco Meraki Solution with ease.wireless site survey companies in india

01 April, 2021 09:37  
Blogger Web Technology said...

we are an established partner that provides sound networking solutions. We help customers migrate their IT infrastructure .
home tuition in chandigarh

03 April, 2021 02:12  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Wie läuft euer Training im Lockdown? Haltet ihr noch durch? https://www.gannikus.de/training/

05 April, 2021 17:52  
Blogger 9and9digisoft said...

Thanks for sharing this useful Blog. For all Digital Marketing Services In Hyderabad visit 9and9.

06 April, 2021 03:35  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Wusstet ihr dass eine Lohnabrechnung online möglich ist? Ich find das super, keine ewig nervenden Zettel mehr. https://www.vyble.io/

05 June, 2021 03:23  
Blogger SIMON PATCHIN said...

How To Get Your Ex Lover/Partner/Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Wife Or Husband Back

It breaks my heart to know that people are hurting so badly that they are desperate to get their love lives back. For anyone hurting right now, I want you to worry no more for your Ex lover/partner will come back to you so you can feel whole again and I truly mean that. When my wife left me, Lord Zakuza was the man I contacted that helped me to get my wife back with his powerful spell within 48 hours and I can never forget the day I meant Lord Zakuza for he's spells perform GREAT MIRACLES. Get in touch with Lord Zakuza now for he's like a God on earth that can get your EX lover back within 48 hours with his powerful spell. You can go get in touch with him through the below details.


WhatsApp/call/text: +1 740 573 9483
Website via: lordzakuzaspells.com
Email via: Lordzakuza7 @ gmail. com

12 June, 2021 08:51  
Blogger KP Webtech said...

Very Nice. Thanks for Sharing such an amazing article.
software development companies uk
cyber security companies in uk
edtech companies in uk
custom software development uk
software testing company in uk
penetration testing companies in uk
software development companies in usa
salesforce crm software in uk
edtech development company in us
cyber security companies in us
cyber security companies in uae
software development company in uae
penetration testing companies in uae
Test Automation services in India
cyber security companies in India

20 July, 2021 02:37  
Blogger Jannikdr said...

Ich brauchte dringend neue Fenster Eifel, da meine überhaupt nicht schalldicht waren. Nun bin ich sehr zufrieden. https://www.eifelkraft.de/

06 August, 2021 02:39  

Post a Comment

<< Home