Friday, December 11
Growing up in Sunday School, children learn symbols that are associated with our faith and the importance of these symbols. They learn about symbols such as the cross, angels, the dove, and even Noah’s Ark. At Easter, lilies symbolize the resurrection of Christ. We even see symbols each Sunday on the embroidered kneeling cushions at the front of the church. Christmas is full of symbols – the manger, the star, and the Advent wreath on which we light a candle each week, one each for peace, hope, love, joy.
As a child, the beautiful symbolic ornaments on the two Chrismon trees in our sanctuary were my favorite. They magically appeared in our sanctuary before the first Sunday of Advent. (Now that I am older, I know how much work goes into these magically appearing trees!) The white lights were so lovely and the ornaments were so different from those we used at home. I stared at the glittering white and gold ornaments throughout the entire service as a child. As I grew older, I realized that these were not just ordinary Christmas tree ornaments. They all stood for something; I just didn’t know what all of them meant.
Some I could recognize easily, such as the different crosses, the butterfly, and the crown. But why would a butterfly and crown be on a Chrismon tree? The crown symbolizes Jesus as being our Lord and King. And as it turns out that butterfly isn’t just any old butterfly – it is actually a symbol of Christ’s resurrection.
You might even see a lamb on the Chrismon tree. This is the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God symbol. The lamb is a symbol that is recognized and understood in many different denominations. And that P that is often combined with a X? This is known as the Chi Rho and is possibly the oldest symbol for Christ.
There are many symbols for the Holy Trinity. This can be seen as three entwined circles, entwined ovals (also known as the Triquetra) or even a simple triangle. There are also many different crosses. There are Latin, Greek, Celtic, and Jerusalem crosses.
As we look at the beauty of our sanctuary this season, including the thought provoking Chrismon trees, may we remember what all these symbols really stand for and be ever thankful that Christ was born and died to save us all.
– Caroline Pritchard