Rev. Dr. Chuck Moffett
‘Tis the season for decorations. More importantly, I suggest, that ‘tis the season for SYMBOLS. Symbols are marks or signs which always point beyond what is known or seen to link us to a deeper understanding or significance of life.
As we enter the seasons of Adent/Christmas and Hanukkah, I invite and encourage you to take time to experience THREE important symbols: Advent Wreath; Chrismon Tree; Chanukah Menorah. Each of these will be on display, along with explanatory information, in the Card Room on the First Floor. Please take time to stop, look, and learn about the spiritual truths and messages each of these symbols represent.
ADVENT WREATH (The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839) The most common Advent Wreath tradition involves four candles placed in a wreath, a circle representing God’s unending love and eternal life. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas to affirm the gifts which we are given in the person of Jesus Christ.
–The 1st candle represents HOPE; The 2nd candle represents FAITH; The 3rd candle represents JOY; The 4th candle represents PEACE. –A 5th white candle in the center of the wreath is lit on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
CHRISMON TREE (First used by American Lutherans in 1957)
A Chrismon Tree is an evergreen tree placed in a church during Advent and Christmastide. The evergreen tree itself symbolizes eternal life which Jesus the Christ provides. The word Chrismon ia a combination of the words “Christ” and “monogram” = “Chrismon.”
The “Chrismon” tree differs from the traditional “Christmas” tree in that it is decorated only with clear white lights and the Chrismons (symbols) made from white and gold material. White is the liturgical color for Christmas (Jesus was pure and perfect), and gold symbolizes Jesus’ majesty and glory. Each Chrismon uses an ancient symbol for some part of the nature and ministry of Jesus.
The Chrismons on display in our Card Room were hand made for Bay Village this year by Nancy and John Swift Each Chrismon bears the embroidered symbol, encircled by a white and gold braid, and a definition of the symbol placed on the reverse side. We are grateful for the skill, dedication, patience, and time devoted by John and Nancy!
CHANUKAH MENORAH (Originated in the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery – Exodus 25)
After being delivered from slavery in Egypt toward the Promised Land, God commanded the Israelites to make a 7-Branch candelabrum to symbolize the 7 days of creation, and a new way of life created through deliverance. When the First Temple was built in Jerusalem, a large Menorah was erected to symbolize the Eternal Flame of God’s presence and mighty acts. It also was a reminder of God’s call for Israel to be “a light to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)
In the 2nd century B.C., the Israelites were oppressed by the Greek-Syrian Empire, and the Second Holy Temple was desecrated by erecting an altar to Zeus. Under Judah Maccabee, a Jewish revolt expelled the oppressors, and rededicated the Temple. When oil was sought to relight the Temple’s Eternal Light, only enough oil was found to last one day. Miraculously, that tiny amount of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply could be obtained. Thus the 9-Branch Hanukkah menorah, symbolizing the 8 days in which the Eternal Light burned, and a larger and elevated 9th candle, the Servant Candle (Shamash) used to light each of the 8 candles.
Once again, Jews celebrated deliverance, and rededicated themselves to freedom for all.