Monday, December 21
What Does Your Advent Symbol Mean to You?
One of my most favorite symbols of the Advent Season is the display of fascinating Chrismon (Christ + monogram) trees in our church sanctuary. What an awesome and enchanting combination of green, gold, and white, including both extremes of man-made symbols such as the Chi Rho (reminding us of Christ’s first visitors, the shepherds, and of his being the good shepherd of all humankind) to the natural creative phenomenon of the dogwood blossom and the butterfly (reminding us of Christ’s great sacrifice of love on the cross and his resurrection and the resurrection of those who die in Christ [I Corinthians 15: 21-23]).
Symbolism reminds me of signs, those indicators/pointers to a fact or quality beyond themselves. You remember how the Gospel of John contains seven miraculous signs in chapters 2-11: (turning water into wine 2:1-11; healing the Capernaum official’s son 4:46-54; healing the paralytic by the Pool of Bethzatha 5:2-9; feeding the five thousand 6:1-14; walking on water 6:16-21; healing the man born blind 9:1-12; and raising Lazarus from the dead 11:1-44). These chapters of the Fourth Gospel are often referred to as the Book of Signs because they are regarded as “…symbols of Jesus’ teaching or as a revelation of his glory (2:11). Their purpose is to evoke faith on the part of those who witness them (2:23), beginning with the disciples (2:11).” Of course there were many other signs/symbols Jesus gave not recorded in John’s Gospel (John 21:25). I would suggest to you there continue to be more symbols/signs pointing to the presence of Christ even in our 21st Century celebration of the first Advent of Christ.
What symbol of Advent 2009 strikes the chords of your spiritual harp? How might that allow you to be reminded or experience a new dispensation of God’s grace?
If memory serves correctly, it was the symbolism of the Advent Season in First Baptist Church back in the late 90’s that ultimately translated this writer from an attendee to a member of the family. Sterling music, a nurturing and healing pulpit, genuine friendships, and a sense of corporate worship allowing me to experience the holiness of God were the symbols of God’s grace that could only be interpreted as having arrived at home. It did not hurt that the church sanctuary was arrayed in all its seasonal Advent splendor. It symbolized a faith family to me. It healed my spiritual longing.
So, the question is “What symbol of this Advent Season is the one for you?” Maybe a manger would remind you of the joy, hope, and promise of new life. Perhaps a cross would challenge you to forgiving and forgiveness. A dove might bring you to an understanding of how the Holy Spirit brings peace and consolation to our hearts. A bell could remind you of all the freedoms found through faith. Whatever symbol you choose, may it usher in to your life the genuine blessings, healing, grace, and peace of our loving Heavenly Father. Amen.
– Will Barnes