By Lloyd Syversten
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Christmas season, ever since childhood, are the Christmas lights and decorations on houses and buildings around town. Just about every year, among the assorted displays, I usually see a sign, often in front of a church, which reads, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
These signs are generally displayed to counter the increasingly common “Merry Xmas” signs that are assumed to be an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. What many people don’t realize is that the X in these signs originally was not intended as the English letter X but the Greek letter chi (X), which is the first letter of Christ in Greek. So these early signs were intended to be an abbreviated form, not a removal of Christ from the greeting.
Even knowing this, I must admit that I too would prefer to see Christ’s name kept in the Christmas greeting. But there is another sense in which I would like to say, “Don’t Keep Christ in Christmas!”
Unfortunately, for many people Christmas is the only season of the year in which Christ gets acknowledged. It may take the form of a nativity scene in or outside of their home, which includes the baby Jesus; or it may take the form of attending a church service or two where the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus is read or re-enacted; or it may take the form of some Christmas carols that are sung declaring the birth of the newborn King.
But too often this is the only time of the year Jesus gets any recognition. Too many people “keep” Christ in Christmas in that they confine or limit or restrict him to this one season or day of the year. When the Christmas decorations come down, Jesus gets put away until next year in more than just the nativity scene.
I believe Jesus not only wants to be a part of our Christmas season but he wants to be a part of every season, every day and every moment of our lives. He wants to be included in everything we do. One of the names associated with Jesus at his birth was Immanuel – which means “God with us.”
When Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of all nations, he concluded his words by saying, “And surely I am with you always…” Clearly His desire is to be “with us” at all times and places.
The writer of the Old Testament book of Proverbs instructs us to trust God with all our hearts and then says: “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” The Bible is clear that God wants us to acknowledge Him in all our ways and in all our days. So let me encourage you not to put Jesus away this with your other Christmas decorations this year but to keep him out all year long. Don’t keep Christ in Christmas, but give Him access to every day of the year in 2021. You’ll be glad you did – and so will He.
Lloyd Syvertsen is the senior pastor of Greenwich (CT) Baptist Church.
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