I hope and pray y'all have a great Thanksgiving with family and/or friends. As we prayed today, for some, the holidays can be a struggle, for a variety of reasons. If that is true for you, we have prayed for you and continue to pray for you, and know that the Blue Holiday Service (see below) is designed for you.
After Thanksgiving comes Advent, the official preparation for Christmas. You've no doubt heard Christmas music already in grocery stores and such. And with Advent comes reminders that many celebrate Christmas for wrong or non-religious reasons. That can be sad and frustrating. Because I want us to celebrate the joy of Christmas and not be distracted from that, I want to quickly, hopefully, transform our frustration into something, well, less frustrating.
Oftentimes the phrases that most frustrate us are "Merry X-mas" and "Happy Holidays." You can't run away from God's love, though, right? Even those who might use those phrases intending to remove "Christ" from Christmas, they are actually still expressing worship and praise of God. In Greek, the letter "X" is the first letter of Christ (xristo, or cristo, in Greek). Like the ichthus, known as the Jesus fish, X was often used as shorthand for Christ--specifically, one's belief in Christ as king of kings. And "mas" comes from the Latin for "mass," or worship. The phrase "X-mas" literally means "worship of Christ." As for "happy holidays," "holidays" is an evolution of "haliday," and Old English word meaning "holy day." In addition to the fact that acknowledging the holy days of other major religions around Christmastime, perhaps especially Hanukkah, is not a bad thing, it is good to remember that Christmas is not a single day. In some Christian traditions, including Latino cultures, the full twelve days of Christmas are celebrated, with Epiphany being the most important. It is indeed not just one holy day but many that we celebrate. There is plenty of evidence showing Christians using both terms, "x-mas" and "happy holidays" dating back centuries.
Whether or not people today use the phrases with awareness of their meaning and history, I don't know. We can give thanks, though, that even if there is a war on Christmas, those waging the war are still expressing the glory of God and our Savior. God is good! Praise Him!
Events and Info:
Ecumenical Thanksgiving Worship. Tonight! 7 p.m. Charlton Federated Church. Offering to support the local food shelf, CHIP-In.
UMW. Monday, November 29th, 7 p.m. Prayer workshop. Come wind down after a busy holiday and before the Christmas rush to pray together.
Bible Study. Wednesday, Dec. 1st, 6 p.m. Advent Bible Study on the women of Christmas story.
Southbridge Volunteers. Our sister church in Southbridge is looking for more volunteers to help with their food and clothing ministry to those who are marginalized, down and out, and homeless in their town. Especially after having Matthew join us recently, we hope many will prayerfully consider helping with their Friday (or Monday) time. You can reach out to me, Jean Anderson, or Cindy or Kim Constantine.
Christmas/Holiday Fair. We will again be doing a week-long, on-line auction the week of November 29th. If you have any items you'd like to donate, please reach out to Danielle, email@example.com. Please see this video to remind yourself of how to use Bidding Owl: How To
During the week of the fair/auction, we have a number of worshipful events to take advantage of:
Hymn Sing. Tuesday, Nov. 30th, 7 p.m.
Bible Study. Wednesday, Dec. 1st, 6 p.m.
Church Conference. Thursday, Dec. 2nd, 7 p.m. (Zoom)
Blue Holiday Worship. Saturday, Dec. 4th, 7 p.m.