It’s hard to believe that in the heart of the season to bring good cheer and great joy we are arguing over the proper rhetoric to describe the time of year.
Christians are upset because the business and secular worlds are trying to change the ever used phrase Merry Christmas to the less offensive Happy Holidays. The business world and non-Christians are offended that they have to hear and are expected to say Merry Christmas, preferring to use more generic terms as Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings.
I, for one, am a bit weary of the argument. Aren’t you? So I decided that as much as I love to study words, I would see if the battle is really worth all the chagrin. Here’s what I found:
“Christmas” derived from an Old English word Cristesmaesse or “Christ’s Mass,” a day set aside to celebrate the birth of the Son of God Incarnate.
“Holiday” derived from an Old English word Haligdaeg or “Holy-Day,” used to denote religious and sacred days set aside for celebration or worship.
“Season’s Greetings” reminds me the Almighty and Sovereign God promised that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 He IS the God of the Seasons.
As I write this it is Dec 19.
In three days the winter solstice will officially introduce winter for another “season,” the days will begin their slow climb back to earlier sunrise and later sun sets. And once again, we will look forward to the warm, sunny days of spring.
My point is we can change the rhetoric but we will never change the facts of history (aka His-Story).
Another example: All my life our time has been divided into BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini or, The Year of Our Lord). Now it has been changed to BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). It is interesting that the Cross that separates BC and AD is the same Cross that is the dividing point for BCE and CE.
So, greet me with Merry Christ-Mass, Happy Holy-Days or Season’s Greetings in 2011 CE! They all point to the day the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to this earth, born of a Virgin in a small town in the middle east. He did, in fact, die on a cross, He did, in fact, raise three days later and He is, in fact, coming again! (read Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.1ff for a first century secular historians take on Him)
We can spend a lifetime trying to change history by changing rhetoric, but the truth and the fact of His-Story remain strong and eternal!
So, what difference does this truth make?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever. For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty. He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him.” (John 3:16-17 NLV)
BARB CHRISTENSON is Chaplain, Good Samaritan Communities of Brainerd, and Associate Pastor, Brainerd Church of the Nazarene