“And on the day after Exmas, [its secular celebrants] are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and the reckoning of how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine.”
These words appeared sixty years ago in a brief but brilliant essay by C.S. Lewis. In it, the Oxbridge professor playfully describes the very real competition between Xmas and Christmas.
The current issue of Christianity Today describes the recent discovery of two forgotten essays Lewis had written shortly after World War II, a decade prior to “Xmas and Christmas.” They were recovered from The Strand, a popular magazine which had introduced Sherlock Holmes to the world.
The editor had solicited the piece, entitled “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans.” Lewis begins by contrasting the vibrant, earthy paganism of ancient days with our own worn and decrepit secular hedonism. “Rubble, dust, broken bottles, old bedsteads and stray cats are very different from grass, thyme, clover, buttercups and a lark singing overhead.”
Thus, one of the twentieth century’s preeminent Christian apologists argues that Jesus’ disciples must approach the task of evangelism in a fresh way. That is an invaluable reminder today, in the twenty-first century where the annual Xmas excess continues its digital transformation.
Unless one is fortunate enough to find access to the original issue, we will have to await its republication next month in VII: Journal of the Marion E. Wade Center to read the entire sermon.
To Christian Readers: Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel.
To all people of goodwill and compassion: May your new year be filled with abundant joy, meaning and peace.