What is Christmas?

By Merv Budd

What is Christmas? I know the question is almost passé. It’s been asked a thousand times over the holidays, used as a sermon title, and scrutinized by historians who point us to how the roots of Christmas grow out of pagan rituals. But this is not the question I’m asking.

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Christmas is the contraction of Christ Mass, the celebration that was used to commemorate the birth of Jesus. If you look up the etymology of the word “Mass” you will find this:

“Eucharistic service,” Old English mæsse, from Vulgar Latin *messa “eucharistic service,” literally “dismissal,” from Late Latin missa “dismissal,” fem. past participle of mittere “to let go, send” (see mission); probably so called from the concluding words of the service, Ite, missa est, “Go, (the prayer) has been sent,” or “Go, it is the dismissal.” Sometimes glossed in Old English as sendnes “send-ness.”

What is Christmas? It is the celebration of Christ being sent, but also it is (or ought to be) the celebration of Christ sending His Church into mission. So, what if this Christmas we truly celebrated the privilege we have of being sent in Jesus’ name, to those who have not yet acknowledged Him?

What if we, like the shepherds, came to see our neighbours as a wonderful gift from the Father? What if we see in our neighbours the newborn Christ and offer gifts as the wise men did? What if we, like the star in the east, directed others to where the Christ could be found?

What if, like the angels, we spoke about this Child given and told how God is with us? And what if every time we were wished a “merry Christmas” we heard in that greeting a reminder to cheerfully go into our world with Jesus who has come near to us?

Merry Christ mass to all of you.

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