For years now, as Christmas approaches, I have seen buttons and signs proclaiming “Jesus is the reason of the season.” Recently, I passed by a church and the sign outside admonished passers-by to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” I, of course, agree with these sentiments. More and more, Christmas has come under attack as something of a politically correct embarrassment.
A local resident wrote to be about this situation and talked about the “…war on Christmas by the politically correct crowd in retail, industry, the media, education and government… I’m referring to the growing number of stores – right here in the middle of the Bible belt – such as Barnes & Nobles, Best Buy, Kmart, Home Depot, Pet Smart (just the tip of the iceberg.) who refuse to recognize our Christmas season. Try and find a single decoration in any of these stores. In some cases, employees are forbidden to even say Merry Christmas… Remember how lovely the stores, malls and restaurants were decorated during the Christmas season in the days of our youth?”
John continued, “I will share with you a personal experience of how times have changed. I was in the … Pet Smart a few weeks ago, and I complimented them on their pretty Christmas decorations in the front of the store. I went back yesterday, and they were all gone! When I asked a clerk, ‘Why?’ she quietly told me they were told to take them down by corporate management. Can you believe that?”
Yes, John, I can believe that. For my part, I say, “Merry Christmas” to everyone this time of year. No “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” for me. And, for the record, I hope that the Jewish believers have a “Happy Hanukkah” and that those who celebrate Kwanzaa enjoy their time, too. But it’s also the Christmas season, for Christ’s sake! (Forgive the pun).
Anyway, not only do I believe that we should reclaim our season, I strongly feel that if we’re going to do Christmas, then let’s do all of it. So, I propose that all churches keep the “Mass” in Christmas. If it’s too late to do it this year, then plan now for next year’s Christmas.
The World Book Encyclopedia defines “Christmas” as follows: “The word Christmas comes from ‘Cristes Maesse.’ an early English phrase that means “Mass of Christ.” The “Mass,” of course, is the word the Catholic Church uses for what Protestants call “The Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Communion.” The Anglicans and Episcopalians among us refer to this event as “The Holy Eucharist,” or “The Great Thanksgiving.” The Orthodox churches refer to the sacraments, including Communion, as “The Holy Mysteries,” and the bread and wine offered at the Table are called “the holy gifts.”
In any event, isn’t time we all went back to the Table? For two thousand years, the Church has come to the Table of the Lord to celebrate Christ-mass, or Christmas. For twelve years, since our beginning, our church has celebrated Holy Eucharist, or The Mass, on Christmas Eve. Many churches are open and conduct Services of Holy Communion on Christmas Day. A growing number of Protestant churches, including, evangelicals, charismatics, and Pentecostals are celebrating The Lord’s Supper on the Sunday before Christmas or even on Christmas Eve.
Jesus is, indeed, the reason for the season, no matter what the Grinches of the world proclaim. Keep Christ in Christmas—and don’t forget the “Mass!”
David Epps serves as a bishop to the Diocese of the Mid-South (ICCEC) encompassing Georgia and Tennessee. He is also the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277 between Peachtree City and Newnan. Services are held Sundays at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. Bishop Epps is also the Mission Pastor of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org