Chrismon 4

The Star of David > for Christ is both the root and the descendant of David.

O come, thou rod of Jesse (King David’s father), free / Thine own from Satan’s tyranny / From depths of Hell thy people save / And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel / Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Come, thou key of David, come / And open wide our heavenly home. / Make safe the way that leads on high / And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel / Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Chrismon 2

God’s Fire

Moses, wandering after his self-exile from Egypt, is tending sheep on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3). An angel of the Lord appears to him “in flames of fire from within a bush”. When Moses investigates, God speaks to him: “I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God has heard his people “crying out because of their slave drivers,” and He will rescue them and restore them to a place flowing with milk and honey—and Moses will be the means.

Moses is the redeemer of the early Old Testament. Christ is the redeemer of all.

The Burning Bush Chrismon (second row, far right) and the second verse in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” commemorate Moses as a harbinger of Christ the Redeemer who saves us from the slave drivers of sins.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might / Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height / In ancient times didst give the law (to Moses, with tablets) / In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel / Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Chrismon 1

What is a Chrismon?

That was my question, the first time I heard the word Chrismon. I’ve seen Christmas trees in churches and admired the ones decorated with Christian ornaments, but I never knew the tree and its ornaments had a special name.

The denomination of my formative Christian years didn’t celebrate the church year. We had Easter and Christmas, but those two Sundays were the only ones devoted to special events of the church: Sunrise Service and Gift-Giving for the Poor. All the other Sundays were a ceaseless progression of one sermon to the next.

Gradually, I encountered elements of the church year. Lent was mentioned because my high school French class celebrated Mardi Gras. All Hallow’s Eve was followed by All Hallow’s Day on an almanac calendar. Epiphany and Pentecost were Christian words; while I knew them, I didn’t understand their importance.

The Chrismon is another new encounter for me. Even people who belong to denominations that follow the church year may know the word but not its origin.

A Chrismon is a symbol associated with Christ or with his ministry: angel, star, fish, dove descending, shepherd’s crook, chalice, and others. These ornaments, typically of white and gold, along with clear lights decorate the evergreen tree placed in a church. Like the Advent wreath, the Chrismon tree offers an opportunity to focus on all that Christ has done for us. The idea of the Chrismon tree began in the late 1950s and spread to other denominations, all as part of the “hanging of the greens” to decorate for the Christmas season.

The Chrismon symbols tell snippets of events of Christ. Our symbol for today, the first day, is the Bible, which is the source of those events, the voice of God to us, our guidebook for the revelation of Christ and our connection to him.