X is for Christ
Sometimes people are surprised to learn that this pastor likes to use Xmas in his correspondence. I’ve been doing it for years, not just to save time, but because X is, contrary to popular belief, a time-honored Christian way to refer to Christ. His disciples have been doing it from the beginning. We find it used frequently in ancient Christian art and iconography. And no, it’s not some kind of mysterious numerological thing having to do with the number 10 (which would be Latin). X is the first letter of Christ in the Greek alphabet, the language of the New Testament.
For me, X marks the spot.
X marks the spot where Christ is born.
X marks the spot where Christ is crucified.
X marks the spot where Christ is risen.
X marks the spot where I want to stand. As in the theatre, where actors follow the X marks on the stage to position themselves in a complicated scene, X reminds me that Christmas is not just an event to remember but a mooring to keep my heart and mind grounded in God’s love, no matter how mighty the wind or how troubled the water around me.
X also marks the spot where I know my true treasure will be found. The world may tell us that gold is great, or that material things can make us secure, but Jesus, who comes into the world in the most precarious way imaginable, teaches us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” X reminds me to search not for rubies and pearls and doubloons but for hope, faith, and love – the only things that endure.
For these reasons, it is my joy to tell the world why I wish to keep X in Christmas.
The background art of the accompanying photo is the oldest known mosaic of Jesus Christ found in England, dating from the 3rd century, part of a larger mosaic found at Hilton St. Mary in Dorset County, and now housed at the British Museum. Note the intersecting XP on his head, making the Greek letters Chi-Rho, which are the first letters of the title "Christ."