Thursday, August 10, 2006

Christ's monograms, Chrismon's

A Chrismon, is a medieval Latin word meaning a symbol of Christ or Christianity, or a "Christ-Monogram".
They are symbols taken from Christian history that reveal the nature and character of Jesus.

The concept of Chrismons as ornaments originated from Mrs. Frances Spencer, who began making Christmas decorations from a variety of materials and left-over Christmas paper and decorations in the late 1940s.  Since she was accomplished in crafting ornaments, her church, Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, asked her to decorate the church’s Christmas tree in 1957. She adapted traditional designs and symbols into designs using the colors white, gold and silver that were symbols about Jesus Christ, and the meaning of Christmas. This unique Christmas tradition now has been adapted in various forms by many churches and denominations across the country as a way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Throughout the creation and development of Chrismons, Mrs. Spencer never personally profited monetarily. The ornaments have been an inspiration to Christians all over the world, and that was the only compensation that Mrs. Spencer ever desired. Mrs. Spencer passed away in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, on April 4th 1990 at the age of Seventy-Two.

To preserve the spirit of Chrismons they should only be made by hand and given as gifts, the predominant colors being the liturgical colors of Christmas, white (or silver) and gold.  Often, a church will have a Chrismon Tree in which members of the congregation make the ornaments for the tree.  In some churches, the idea of Chrismons is combined with the Jesse Tree, and becomes a project for the children of the church during the entire season of Advent. My mother in law's church in Bradford, Hill Memorial United Methodist, has a beautiful Christmon tree that decorates their sanctuary every Christmas holiday season. They were lovingly stitched in plastic canvas by a group of women who met regularily, working, until the project was finished. The tree is beautiful and meaningful.

I don't feel the concept of a Chrismon tree should be limited to the sanctuary of a church. Shouldn't our homes be sanctuaries as well? A televison commercial for a credit card company asks "What's in your wallet?" We should be asking ourselves, what's in our homes, does it reflect God's Glory?

Check out this link for more information about Chrismon's: