Symbols of the Season

During Advent, we enter a season of worshipful expectation. Take time to notice the many prompts for special reflection in the symbols that fill the Yates sanctuary! I encourage you to notice the Chrismon Tree. It is filled with symbols of our faith. A Chrismon is a CHRISt MONogram. Although the Chrismon Tree is a 20th century innovation, the Chrismons are symbols rooted in the Jewish and early Christian experience. As you come to worship each week and look at the beautiful tree adorned with these symbols of our faith, be reminded of Jesus Christ!

The Circle: The circle is the simplest of Chrismons and is a symbol of God. It has no beginning point and no ending point and represents the love of God which is eternal and without end.

The Triangle: For many years, the triangle has been a symbol for the Trinity, the Christian belief that God is a unity of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This Chrismon reminds us of God’s love revealed as the Father of all creation, as God who came to us in Jesus, the Messiah, and as God the Holy Spirit who is with us now as our companion and guide. (Pictured: a triangle Chrismon made by John and Beverly Garcia)

The Commandments: This Chrismon takes us to the Exodus and Moses’ leading Hebrew slaves out of bondage and the provision of the Law and a covenant relationship. This Chrismon symbolizes the freedom and relationship that God gave to the people and reminds us of our Jewish spiritual roots.

The Square: The square represents the four gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospels tell the good news of Jesus in stories of his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. This Chrismon reminds us that the purpose of the gospel is to tell the story of Jesus and call for a response from all who read or hear.

The Manger and the Star: The manger and the star are symbols of our Lord’s birth. The manger reminds us of the humble birth of Jesus. Because his mother had no cradle, his mother used an animal’s feeding trough as the infant Jesus’ bed. The manger and star remind us of God’s humble and vulnerable entry into the world and our lives.

The Cup and the Cross: The cup and the cross are symbols of Jesus’ suffering and death. When we see them, we are reminded that he took the cup of our suffering and drank of our sorrow. The love of God was never more apparent than when Jesus died for a lost world, and the cross became the foremost symbol of Christianity. Christmas does not commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus, but our celebration takes on new meaning when we remember what would happen to this child. The Cup and the Cross Chrismon is a reminder of the breadth and depth of God’s love expressed in Jesus for us all. (Pictured: a cross Chrismon made by Ashlee Wheeler)

The Dove: The dove reminds us of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and how the Holy Spirit came upon him as he was raised from the water. He was baptized at the beginning of his ministry, and after the resurrection, he told his followers that their job was to go, make new disciples, and baptize others.

The Shepherd’s Staff: In the Old and New Testaments, the shepherd’s staff reminds us of our Lord’s care. The shepherd’s staff was used to give direction and protection for the sheep. The 23rd Psalm begins with comforting words, “The Lord is my shepherd…” In John’s gospel, Jesus refers to himself as “The Good Shepherd” to all his disciples, his flock.

The Cross and Orb, the Crown: The cross and orb and the crown are symbols of God’s victory over sin and death at Jesus’ resurrection. The orb or sphere symbolize the world and its people and the cross over it symbolizes Christ’s triumph. The crown displays God’s sovereignty and shows the risen Christ as the ruler of all creation. (Pictured: a cross and crown Chrismon made by Katherine Palmer)

The Fish: The sign of the fish was used by early Christians to mark their meeting place and to identify themselves. The first letters of the Greek words for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior” (IΧΘΥΣ) form an acrostic, the Greek word for “fish.” When a sketch of a fish was seen by these early Christians, they knew they were with other believers. Matthew tells of the call Jesus issued to his disciples: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” This Chrismon calls us back to that task. (Pictured: a fish Chrismon made by Ken Smith)

There is much to see and celebrate in these days of Advent, if we stay watchful and alert! May it be so.



Grace and Peace,

Christopher Ingram

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