Christmas. The first syllable surely needs no explanation of origin. It speaks of the One we celebrate.
But what about the second syllable, -mas?
Christmas is a term that has been around for nearly a thousand years, coming to us from Old English. Cristes Maesse meant “Mass of Christ.” It was established by church leaders to disconnect the church celebration of Jesus’ birth from pagan holidays and customs—holidays such as Winter Solstice. (Even before the birth of Christ, Romans were celebrating the shortest day of the year, in anticipation of the sun’s gradual return.)
As a matter of fact, as early as the fourth century, Christians were creating their own wintertime celebration. One theologian pointed out in 320 A.D.: “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”
Yet there are those who wish to keep the customs of Christmas without including the One being celebrated. Seems they’d like to take away the first syllable, Christ. But then all that’s left is –mas.
Sounds like mess.
Indeed. I am confident that without Christ, my life would be a mess.
A mess of fears.
A mess of brokenness.
A mess of worry.
A mess of guilt.
A mess of dissatisfaction.
It’s possible that for a long while I’d be able to hide the mess under glittery packages of stuff, noise and distraction, busy-ness.
But eventually, a body must stop and rest. That’s when my mind would kick into high gear and the mess would wreak havoc in my soul. Chances are I’d develop sleep problems, depression, or perhaps even physical manifestations like ulcers. Stress can do that to a person.
Shouldn’t I at least consider the alternative? What if I do allow Christ in my life?
Oh, my. The list of precious gifts He bestows is astounding and practically endless. To begin, he provides:
- Calm in place of fear.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1), Jesus said.
- Restoration in place of brokenness.
“Anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons” (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message)!
- Peace of mind in place of worry.
“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met…God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:33-34, The Message).
- Forgiveness in place of guilt.
“Everyone who believes in [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).
- Contentment in place of dissatisfaction.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
And among his many other gifts to us, Jesus grants us the incredible privilege of eternal life (John 3:16)—with him in heaven.
But how will I be able to enjoy all these gifts if I don’t give Christ a chance?
I really have nothing of value to lose. Just the mess.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)–the Christ of Christmas!
(Art credit: www.emblibrary.com .)