Occasionally I receive feedback on what I publish. It would appear that my article “The Reason for the Season“ caused a little consternation. I’m sorry for the confusion.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t explain myself, but the feedback indicates to me that sufficient numbers of people found my words rather strange or concerning to make me feel that perhaps I should shed some light on the subject so people are not unnecessarily upset. I say “unnecessarily” because if this article clears up the mystery for them and they are then disturbed by the clear message, then perhaps it is ultimately a good thing that they be unsettled! (It is not my job to say what everyone wants me to say, but rather to bear faithful witness to Jesus who came 2000 years ago as Saviour and who will come again as Judge.)
So, what caused grief for readers? Well, in conversation with one person, I realised that the non-word “mas” that I used over and over again sounds rather like “mass”, which is a Roman Catholic form of worship. But I wasn’t making any point either in favour of or against Roman Catholicism. The clue to the interpretation of the article is not connected with the “mas” bit at all. In fact, the clue is in the question, “What did I leave out?”
On twenty-two separate occasions, I referred to Christmas as “mas”, thus leaving out the first six letters of the full word that readers might have expected to see. I wrote about “mas”, leaving out “Christ”. I talked about all of the trappings of our usual celebrations of Christmas but I left out Christ. And I suggested that in the same way as this was rather ridiculous for my magazine article, so any celebration of Christmas which left out Christ would be equally ridiculous. Let’s face it, Christmas starts with Christ!
Yet, in a ComRes poll from December 2010, 51% of the respondents agreed with the statement, “The birth of Jesus is irrelevant to my Christmas.” This would indicate that over half the population of this “Christian” country have no interest in Christ Jesus at what is almost certainly the biggest Christian festival of the year. When we overlay this with the results of the 2011 census, in which 59.3% of the population claimed to be Christian, we are left with the curious fact that around 8% of the population call themselves Christian yet see the birth of Jesus as irrelevant to their Christmas. Now that is truly ridiculous!
My intention in the original article was not to confuse, but to cause people to think. I also did not intend to offend (though I recognise that connecting the Christmas celebrations of 51% of the population and the word “ridiculous” may have had this effect). On reflection, perhaps ridiculous is the wrong word: if the Christian claim that Jesus is Saviour and Judge is true, then dismissing his birth as irrelevant is more than ridiculous; it’s just asking for trouble. And I, for one, would rather spare people that.
May the Christ of Christ-mas make you ready to meet him when he comes again.