Have you ever left a retreat eager to share nuggets of wisdom with the world? Could you do it in another language? On the train to Moscow, my husband helped three older ladies with their mattresses. The boldest of the three said, “Zhank you, Sir!” And she demanded the other ladies repeat after her. When the round of thank yous ended, she told me that 20 years prior, she studied English at University. She was eager to tell me about a conference that they’d just attended. Her excitement was infectious, and I wanted to hear more. I spoke to her in Russian, and she answered me in English. She told me that she and the other two ladies were sisters. Then she corrected herself. “We are sisters in God.” She leaned in, looked me in the eyes, and asked, “Are you Christmas?” the confused look on my face undoubtedly prompted her next question. “Wait, is that the right word?” In my calmest voice, I replied, “do you mean Christian?” I assured her that, yes, we are Christians. And yet, as the holiday approaches, the memory of her question circles around my heart.
What is Christmas?
It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ. We use the word as a modifier before anything that has to do with the holiday. For example, we eat Christmas cookies, decorate our Christmas tree, send out Christmas cards, and put up Christmas lights. But, where did the word originate? I learned that the earliest records are from before the year 1050. The word comes from the Old English Cristes mǣsse, meaning “Mass of Christ.” The word mass refers to a holiday feast in honor of a specific person. How can a person be Christmas?
We Are Christmas When
- We live anchored to Hope, and seek to give that gift to others.
- Our lives reflect the Light of the World.
- We find joy in celebrating Jesus at all times.
- Our hearts are empty of self and full of the Spirit.
- We find Peace in His presence and seek to share it with others.
Her ‘mistake’ brought joy to my heart while causing me to ponder. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves, “Are we Christmas?”
What does Christmas mean to you? How can you be Christmas this year?
Father, thank You for the example of this Russian sister in Christ. Thank You for using her question to slow us down to ponder the meaning of Christmas. Use us, Lord. May our attitudes, behavior, and words lead others to celebrate You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.