Merry Christmas Everyone! This is Pastor Phil!
We have 5 rescue dogs at home, from small to big, also from 18 years old all the way to 3 years old. It is quite a furry menagerie! Every year we wrap Christmas presents for them filled with dog treats and chewies and give them their presents before we start opening our presents.
The puppies all get super excited! This year, we kind of extra filled all of the doggie presents with treats and the puppies went to town on them. So much so, that about an hour later they were all passed out all over the living room in a food coma.
One of our rescue dogs, a 6-year-old Jack Russel that some of you have met, we named Merry Christmas. We have a blast every Christmas saying, “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!!!” Merry Christmas is also a pretty stubborn pup and wants to wander around the yard staring at the air rather than come inside when we call her. In the middle of the summer, you can often hear us yelling, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” in the backyard more like a cuss word when she won’t get her butt in the house. I’m pretty sure the neighbors think we’ve lost our minds yelling Merry Christmas in August!
But what if we did that, for real? What if we shared (not yelled) Merry Christmas, every month and every day of the year? Not only during those last few weeks of December but we felt free to share a very Merry Christmas to the nice lady in the check-out lane on May 15th or even October 31st? Yes, people would look at us like we’re a few stripes short of a candy cane, but why not?
I think a lot of it would have to do with what we mean by, “Merry Christmas!”
Like, when I’m in my backyard in July, yelling Merry Christmas, I’m not talking about that holiday we celebrate on the 25th of December every year. When we say Merry Christmas as Christians, even in December, we’re not completely talking about the winter event that is only about presents, eggnog, and little guys with green hats and pointy ears that only happens in December. Those things might be part of what we mean, but what we are really saying, and celebrating is what the word itself actually means- Christmas, the Christ’s Mass, or the Cristes Maesse.
The word Mass is used often in Catholic theology and refers to Holy Communion and the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood. (There is a lot more to this and the differences in Catholic and Lutheran understandings of Holy Communion, but this is sufficient for our point today. If you have questions about it, ask me sometime). The word mass itself likely derives from the Latin, missa, or the: dismissal, sending, or you even could say colloquially, mission. The word merry likely comes from Germanic origins and is related to mirth. So, cheerful, celebration, and joyful are all appropriate synonyms.
You put that all together and when we say, Merry Christmas, as Christians what we mean is, the celebration of the sending of the Christ or the celebration of Christ’s mission into our world.
That is what Christmas is all about. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
When we say Merry Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s mission to come into our world of sin and darkness and be our light.
When we say Merry Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s mission to become one of us so that He might die as one of us for us, so we might live and become like He is through grace and faith.
When we say Merry Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s mission to bring the love of God to us so that we might know the love of God in us.
When we say Merry Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s mission to adopt us so we can become Children of the Heavenly Father and live eternally in His family with all of the saints.
These, and so much more is everything we mean when we say Merry Christmas.
So, when we share Merry Christmas to the people in our world, we are sharing the Good News that God came to us to love me and you and to bring me and you to be with Him through faith. Why not say that, every day, and every month, of every year, with everyone. A very Merry Christmas in February, June, and July. Celebrate Christ’s mission for you and me.
Like the Christian author, Charles Dickens wrote at the end of a Christmas Carol, “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, every One!”
Though, if you don’t want people to look at you funny in July, instead of Merry Christmas, you can always say Jesus loves you and God bless. Though you still might get funny looks. But that’s okay.