The following is from the thirteenth installment of my bulletin insert series:
Today’s insert is going to stray a bit from the others in this series. The others have focused on sights or experiences within the sanctuary or the worship service (thus the title). This edition will start with a symbol that was talked about on last week’s insert about the Chrismons, and then focus on a related topic of the season.
The Chi-Rho - The Χ with the Ρ in the center forms a symbol of Christ using two Greek letters. The X is the Greek letter, Chi, and the P is the Greek letter, Rho. They are the first two letters of the Greek word Χρίστου, or in English, Christ. - Sometimes you will see the letter Ι (iota) with the Χ which are the first letters of the Greek spelling of Jesus and Christ.
Knowing about these symbols helps us to understand why sometimes people refer to Christmas using the “shorthand” form of X-mas. It really is not an attempt to “x-out” Christ from Christmas. Rather, it is an abbreviation for Christmas using a chrismon, if you will; the symbol for Christ.
I am in full favor of the idea of making sure we keep Christ in Christmas, but I am not all that concerned about whether people use the Greek initial when writing the word.
Instead, I would suggest two ways for us to “keep Christ in Christmas.” First, let us observe the holy season of Advent as a time to prepare ourselves spiritually for celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.
Second, keep the “mas(s)” in Christmas(s). Mass is not a term that we Protestants typically use. However, it is a word that basically refers to the worship service of Holy Communion. If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, be sure to faithfully gather with the Church around the Table of the Lord on Christmas (or, in our case, Christmas Eve).