Without a doubt, this has been a most difficult year.
However, as Christmas approaches, there is a sense and anticipation of renewed hope. For Christians this hope has an object; that being our Savior Jesus Christ. The Christmas season reminds us of a promise now fulfilled and one that is yet to come when He returns.
If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can almost hear the echoes of laughter and the joyful sounds of celebration as family and friends of years past gatherer around the Christmas tree…and we can now look forward to this same celebration that will soon be here.
However and unfortunately, times are rapidly and socially changing. There is a considerable effort to change the greeting of “Merry Christmas” to a more secular and neutral “Happy Holidays”.
This change in the Christmas greetings has a profound significance. For sometime around the 12th century, the term “merry” had a very different meaning than it does today. Our ancestors knew what we have lost, and that is the very special meaning of the seasonal greeting “Merry Christmas”.
Over the centuries, the English language, like all others, has evolved into what it is today. Phrases that were once accepted are being replaced by those with a far different meaning. So it is true with the word “Merry” in Merry Christmas.
We tend to relate this word as meaning happy or joyful. But is that what it actually meant when it was used in centuries past? The answer may surprise you…it did me.
It was a bit of a shock to learn that the word in the original English actually meant “mighty and powerful in substance or belief”. That is amazing!
In its truest sense, “Merry Christmas” means to have a mighty and powerful belief in a living Savior. The phrase is an acknowledgment that Jesus is the special and unique one-of-a-kind Son of God.
The correct usage of “merry” can even be found in songs such as: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. This song reflects and acknowledges the mighty and powerful conviction in the birth of the King. When you consider the words of the song in the context of the original English language, you will see what it really portrays. Here is a paraphrase of the stanza of this song: “Take Rest You Mighty and Powerful Gentlemen (Christians); resting in the fact that the Savior is here to free us from our fears and worries.
It is through Him we are being made “mighty” because of our belief and faith has an object, Jesus Christ Himself; we are made mighty and powerful in the belief that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.
The term “Gentlemen”, is interesting as well for it depicts one’s nobility. It is not our nobility; it is His living in and through us today, this is what makes us noble. This is also a testament to His kindness, and love toward and for us. It is He that makes us noble in God’s sight…very awesome!
Marry is not just a religious “mighty and powerful” phrase. For even in the secular world one can easily find this word used. Ever hear of the story of “Robin Hood and His Merry Men”? Merry is a direct reference to the fact they were “mighty” and “powerful” warriors…they were not to be messed with without consequences. They were greatly feared and even deeply respected by the king and his own (merry) powerful men.
Today when someone wishes you a “Merry Christmas”, take a moment to reflect on its meaning; that is a mighty, majestic, and powerful Savior has come.
It is from a joyful heart that Barbara and I send you Christmas greetings to you and your family…Have a Mighty, Powerful, and Merry Christmas in Him!
Bob and Barbara Weyand