The following poem was inspired by the criticism of a well-meaning individual who questioned why I, as a minister, would cross Christ out of Christmas by writing "Christmas" as "X-mas" in one of my letters. My reply to my inspirator was delivered with this ballad entitled "The Magical 'X' in X-mas":
The reason for the cross in Xmas
Is not to strike "Christ" out,
And forget that this is His birthday
This I greatly doubt!
As a man of the cloth and scripture,
I'm given to comprehend
The many, many ways God reaches out
With a helping hand to lend.
When I look at the "X" in Xmas,
I recall my conversion to Christ,
And how it could have been otherwise,
Had I let myself been enticed.
Betimes we are found at the X-roads
Of the ways of wrong and right,
And the lures of both are equally strong
As a test of spiritual might.
The "X" in Xmas tells us that
To avoid our loving God's wrath,
We must take up our own "X" in life
And "X" over to His Son's path...
The good Lord taught in signs and parables
In His reign of yesteryear
Because He knew most people then
Would neither see nor hear.
Hence, the greatest sign from that has become
The saving sing of the "X,"
To remind us that life can be spiritual gain,
And not eternal loss!
When you're likewise sitting and praying in church,
And the usher comes down the aisle,
Just know that X-ing that plate with dollars
Will make the Master smile.
The reason for this, and for you to believe,
If you don't feel pocket-brash,
He certainly wants the credit,
But he also needs the cash!
It's the cash that builds His churches and schools,
And covers His servants' wage...
And provides for the poor and the destitute,
And God's children old in age.
For the wedding it pays, special meetings and such,
And the baptism of a new star,
And the final farewell of loved ones and friends
At their X-ing of the bar.
And when Santa Claus commercially comes
To all his nice girls and boys,
Let's help them, dear parents, to X-amine
Their needs for more than toys.
To help them to know when they see the word "Xmas"
And the cross is at a tilt,
That their growing-up lives are meant to be lived
With freedom from false sin and guilt.
That, mainly, that same "X" should teach us not
To be "X" with our fellow man,
That peace on earth and brotherhood
Is the ultimate in God's plan.
We're all waiting and praying for wonders untold
While the simple truth can be missed
That the greatest of wonders is this gift of life
This "now-time" in which we exist!
We take it all so much for granted, my friends,
Until we have a close call,
Then we suddenly see the Power Divine
That can even death forestall!
For example, I X-ed my name off that flight
'Cause something within me said,
The plane would never complete the trip
That all aboard would be dead!
And lo, in the news the very next day,
It had sadly come to pass,
For the headlines stated that plane had crashed down,
And everyone perished en masse!
And all those miles I drove in my car
A-X America land
When belief in the so-called Son-ship of God
Spared my life by His merciful hand.
Like the time I was driving and rapidly nearing
A railroad X-ing place,
And a vision, I swear, of God's hand surged up,
So I quickly slowed my pace.
Just at that moment a train I'd not seen
Came speedily, rumbling by,
And I knew that I'd been spared again
By something much greater than I!
Could I ever forget His birthday? No!
I'm reminded by too many things
To "X" from my priority list
That King of Immortal Kings!
We see in others and things what we are,
So when seeming fault you find,
If you worship in Spirit and not "word" alone,
Your master won't be your small mind.
And when the word "Christmas" with an "X" confuses
You by its fact or its myth,
Just know that what you're looking at
Is what you're looking with.
There's really just one thing to ponder, now,
That's Christ's struggle up Calvary,
As He slantedly carried that "X" all the way
Up that hill for you and me!
•-Thane Cornell is a Carson City dance instructor and choreographer.