Summary: "Merry Xmas!" Whenever you try to take "Christ" out of "Christmas" -- all you have left are "Xs". Excesses, Exhaustion, and Exchanges. But we were made for Expectation, Exaltation, and Examination.

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Text: John 1:1-14

(Suggested opening video: Christmas With A Capital C)

There are many beautiful traditions and practices that have come to be associated with Christmas. And many of them aren’t what you would call “Christian traditions or practices” - but we’ve adopted them and made them a part of our annual celebration anyway.

Take the Christmas tree, for example. Now, nowhere in the scriptures will you find where Joseph and Mary put one up in the stable where Christ was born. Some historians trace this practice back to an ancient pagan ritual that marked the celebration of the winter solstice. But over the centuries it has shed its pagan symbolism – and now stands as a beautiful reminder of life and God’s creation to you and me today. We generally use evergreen trees to remind us of everlasting life in Christ. And that’s why I have a Christmas tree standing in my living room. If I thought it was undermining the sacredness of this Christian holiday – I’d throw it out. But, I think in a very meaningful way – it adds to it.

And there are lots of other traditions which have grown up over the years that don’t really have any particular Christian or scriptural foundation. Like: hanging up stockings. . .putting up lights. . .sending cards. . .drinking eggnog. . .eating fruitcake. For some people – these things are Christmas. They are the beginning and the ending of the meaning of it. For Christians, though, those things are only a harmless addition to the real meaning of it. And so long as we keep our eyes on the celebration of the birth of Christ – those things don’t contradict the truest expression of the holiday.

But you know, there is one practice that I can think of that is probably the most annoying and offensive holiday habit I’ve ever seen. And that’s when we take “Christ” out of “Christmas” – and replace him with an “X”. It’s such a common thing anymore – on highway billboards, on store fronts, in people’s homes. To see splattered up there a big “MERRY XMAS.” Now, some people say that it’s just a harmless abbreviation for when you don’t have room to write the whole thing. But I say – if you don’t have room to include Christ in it, it’s better to write nothing at all.

I’ve heard others claim that it’s really not an X. They claim that it’s the Greek letter “chi” – which is the first letter in the name of Christ. So that “X” really stands for “Christ.” Just out of curiosity – how many of you can speak or write Greek? (Show of hands) That’s what I sort of suspected. So, who are we kidding?

Do you realize what you’re wishing people whenever you wish them a “Merry Xmas”? You’re actually wishing them a “Merry Nothing-mas!” Whenever you take Christ out of Christmas – you have nothing left to celebrate!

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