Why We Took “Christ” Out of Christmas (Or did we?)

xmas-4I get a call or email from her every year. I don’t know her name. She doesn’t go to our church, I only know she’s mad, and she considers it her spiritual duty to correct me.

The issue?

Xmas.

For years now, we’ve placed an electronic reader board near the street in front of our Church building before Christmas that lists our Christmas Eve service times. The sign says, Xmas Eve.

And every year she accuses us of taking Christ out of Christmas.

Hers is a common misconception.

First, she is historically wrong. The use of “X” has been common in the Church for a long time, and it stands for CHRIST. (See this link for an explanation.)

In fact, its use was a very popular practice, particularly by religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place. Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least a thousand years. (Here’s another link just in case you need more convincing.)

biblical-scribes

Second, we use Xmas on our sign for a very practical reason: Space. To use “Christmas Eve” and list all our services would take too many panels. People driving by have time only for a glance.

Third, of all the things that matter, like the billions who don’t have clean drinking water or the millions suffering from starvation, this issue is not worthy of an uproar by Christians. (Especially, when they are being inaccurate. See my first point.)

Maybe instead of worrying too much about taking Christ out of Christmas we should be a lot more like Christ at Christmas. I’m quite certain Jesus wouldn’t mind the use of “X,” and He’d be way more concerned with things and people that matter.

Fourth, to think that a Christian, evangelical church has taken Christ out of Christmas is a unfortunate false assumption. Every week we preach Jesus, and our stated mission is to “help people find and follow Jesus!” For the record, Jesus Christ is at the center of everything we do and say at Eastpoint! Everything.

Fifth, our mission as a church is to reach the unchurched. And trust me, the unchurched are not the ones calling and complaining. Frankly, they tend to think arguments about “X” are stupid, and they sometimes use this foolishness among believers as an excuse to avoid Christians. How sad.

x-logo
A = Alpha / W = Omega / X = Chi (first letter in “Christ”)

When the sign got delivered this past week, one of my staff said, “Are we going with ‘Xmas’ again this year? Are you sure it’s worth the flack we’ll get?”

“Yup,” I said, “We’re not trying to be offensive, but the only people who will be offended aren’t the unchurched folks we’re trying to reach.”

She smiled. So did I.

Merry Xmas!

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8 thoughts on “Why We Took “Christ” Out of Christmas (Or did we?)

  1. The only sharing I will be doing will be adverse to your explanation, which is nothing but a cop out. If I recall I said “whatever your reasoning, you are yielding to a secular idea of Christ.” I do appreciate your attempt with the cute story (I’ve got a few of them myself in the opposite direction) you used to make a case for your reasoning behind the word (is it really a word?) on the sign, but it doesn’t fly with. Other Christians that I have spoken to were appalled, whereas I am merely disappointed. Merry CHRISTmas to you. Sincerely Lee W. Pitts

    1. Lee, I would encourage you to read my blog again, and perhaps more carefully, I can assure you we have not “yielded to a secular idea”. Facts, history, and our clear and evident passion for Jesus at Eastpoint, are not the results of human “reasoning” or a cop out, my friend. Frankly, the divisive and judgmental nature of some Christians continues to break my heart. We have not taken “Christ” out of Christmas at Eastpoint. But sadly, too many who follow Him have taken His prayer for unity (John 17) out of their lives and out of their practical experience with others within the Body of Christ. We can disagree, but we cannot, and I will not, make our pet peeves a point of disunity.
      Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.”
      – M.R. DeHaan
      You are loved,
      Pastor Kurt

  2. This is a fine explanation. But I ask you, how many people who drive by your sign know Greek? How many people remember when it started happening (Xmas instead of Christmas)and felt the change as a slight by commercialism to save space on the signs for shopping and remove religion from a holiday we weren’t allowed to talk about in schools. I am 65 years old and it will always hurt just like cussing and putting Christ’s name in the sentence when you are not praying but angry. At school, we can’t say Christmas but have to say Happy Holidays. I kind of feel like saying Christ’s name for the good whenever possible.

    1. Hi Judy,
      I agree, very few know Greek, and I don’t pray to “Dear X” — but I would respectfully ask you to consider all five of my points in this blog (including the “space” issue). This blog was written to: 1) educate the uninformed (ignorance is never a good excuse for anything); 2) to explain the use of Xmas on our sign; 3) to remind Christians (the only ones who get upset about this) that we are trying to reach non-Christians (and they tend to think our fighting over “X” is “religious nonsense”). Remember this too…we have not taken Christ out of anything at Eastpoint. In fact, over the last 3 Sundays, over 25 new believers have given their lives to Him at the conclusion of our services. I humbly suggest that we best keep Christ in Christmas by doing our best to reach those He came to earth to reach.
      Thank you for adding to the conversation.
      You are loved.

  3. Learned about Xmas from a Lutheran Pastor many years ago. Maybe the person with complaint needs to take a little class. Pretty sure ALL of the Christian Pastors could school her. Proud of you for sticking to your guns. Merry Xmas!!

  4. Bless you, Kurt, for taking the time to elaborate on the meaning of the “X” in Xmas. I had read about it before, but it is sadly something so many folks don’t get.
    Have a blessed Advent and a Merry Xmas!

    1. Sadly, some Christians seem to just need a “fight” to find worth. Unfortunately, they (we) tend to pick things that a watching world just shakes their heads at while wondering, “Why don’t they fight for something (like better drinking water) that truly does make a difference.” Thanks for adding to the conversatio, Martha.

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