The Christmas tree in the sanctuary at Grace is decorated with handmade ornaments called Chrismons. “Chrismon” is a combination of the words “Christ” and “monogram,” and means “symbols of Christ.” Chrismons are gold and white, representing majesty and purity. They were first developed in 1957 by Frances Kipps Spencer of Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Va.
Early Christians often worshipped in secret to avoid possible persecution and death. They developed certain symbols that were used to communicate with fellow believers and direct Christians to secret places of worship. Symbols that signified the believers’ faith often adorned doors and buildings, and were included on items such as jewelry and household utensils. These centuries-old symbols, and other pictorial representations from the Bible and church history, are the inspiration for Chrismons that adorn Chrismon trees in churches of different denominations throughout the country.
You are invited to spend a few moments this Advent season looking at the tree and reflecting on the Chrismons and their meaning. A few you will notice:
Butterfly: The butterfly is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection and eternal life. Just as the butterfly emerges from its cocoon and flies upward with a new body, the followers of Jesus Christ are reborn and given a new life.
Chi Rho: The Chi Rho Chrismon is a monogram of the first two letters of the Greek word from Christ – Chi (X) and Rho (P).
Fish: The fish is a popular symbol of Christianity today. It was a secret symbol used by the early persecuted Christians to signify their belief in Jesus.