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Chrismon Ornaments, What Are They, and What Do They Represent?

Robert believes that invaluable insight comes by examing the traditions of various cultures, institutions, and individuals.

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The Ascension Lutheran Church is a part of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Existing as one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, the ELCA has about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its members practice Lutheranism. The largest branch of Protestantism, Lutheranism, identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a 16th-century German reformer. Born in 1483, Luther's efforts to reform the church's theology and practice launched the Protestant Reformation. Before he died in 1546, Martin Luther produced numerous books, sermons, letters, essays, and hymns. His writings expressed his overwhelming confidence in the promise of God's liberating mercy in Jesus Christ and the faith in that promise.

Martin Luther - Portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (photo public domain)

Martin Luther - Portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (photo public domain)

Frances Kipps Spencer and Chrismons

Born to missionary parents in Karuizawa, Japan, on July 8, 1917, Frances Kiku Kipps Spencer was three years old when her family returned to the United States. Her father, a Lutheran minister, served in various cities and towns in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Spencer created the first Chrismon Ornaments in 1957 for the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, VA. Based on ancient monograms, the designs included Greek symbol abbreviations and crosses that honored Jesus Christ and His teachings.

Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer (1917-1989) created the first Chrismon Ornaments in 1957 for the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, VA

Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer (1917-1989) created the first Chrismon Ornaments in 1957 for the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, VA

Mrs. Spencer chose the White and Gold colors to display Christ's purity and God's majesty. The evergreen tree backdrop symbolizes the eternal life Christ offers his followers. The tree's white lights proclaim Christ's role as the Light of the world. The Smithsonian Institute has housed several Chrismon trees, and many Ascension Lutheran Churches erect a 20' - 24' tree open to visitors during the fall and winter holiday season. Mrs. Spencer created her ornaments using motifs that Christians had been using for thousands of years. The heritage of all Christians, the designs called "Chrismons," a combination of Christ and the Word monogram, cross denominational lines. Here is a description of twenty-four Chrismon ornaments.

3D Creator's Star (Six Points)


The six-pointed star, called the Star of David, is a reminder of the six days of creation (Exodus 20:1). The two triangles that form the star symbolize the Holy Trinity.


3D Creator's Star (Six Points)

3D Creator's Star (Six Points)

Alpha and Omega

The Greek alphabet's first and last letters are called Alpha and Omega. They signify that Jesus is the beginning and the end of all things. The Holy Bible's final book, Revelation, reveals that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Word, meaning, the First Word through whom all things came into being, and the Last Word by whom all receive judgment. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" Revelation 1:8 (NIV).

Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega

Angel

The Angel Chrismon represents the messengers of God, who announced the birth and Resurrection of Christ.

Angel

Angel

Beaded Fish

Persecuted followers of Christ used the symbol of a fish as a sign to identify themselves secretly. The initials (IXOYC), the Greek word for fish, represented Jesus Christ, God's Son, and the Savior.

Beaded Fish

Beaded Fish

Bells

The primary purpose of ringing church bells is to let worshippers know when to assemble. The "joyful noise" of the bells signifies God's presence in the world. In the Old Testament, God instructed gold bells to be alternated with pomegranates and sewn into the high priest's, Aaron's, robe hem to announce when he entered and come out of the sanctuary. "Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out so that he will not die" Exodus 28:35 (NIV).

Bells

Bells

Butterfly

The symbol of resurrection. The three stages of the butterfly's metamorphosis symbolize the Life, Death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Butterfly

Butterfly

Celtic Cross

Originating from the Celts of Ireland, the Circle symbolizes eternity or the unity of man.

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross

Chi Rho in Sun

Chi Ro (XP) is a Greek symbol for Christ. "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.'" John 8:12 (NIV).

Chi Rho in Sun

Chi Rho in Sun

Crosses of Crucifixion

The middle cross is pointed and represents the spear that pierced Christ's side. The crucifixion symbolizes the victory over suffering and death.

Crosses of Crucifixion

Crosses of Crucifixion

Crown of Seven Peaks

The Crown represents the Kingship of Jesus Christ and His place of honor at the right hand of God. Seven symbolizes completeness and perfection. The seven-point Crown highlights the number seven, which is used 735 times in the Bible. The seven points remind us of Christ's complete and perfect victory over sin and death. "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown," Revelation 3:11 (NIV).

Crown of Seven Peaks

Crown of Seven Peaks

Gold Crown of Thorns

The Gold Crown represents the suffering of Christ. "The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' And they slapped him in the face'" John 19:2-3 (NIV).

Gold Crown of Thorns

Gold Crown of Thorns

Gold Star of David

The five-point star, Epiphany Star, announces the birth of Christ. A prophecy from the Old Testament told that "A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel" Numbers 24:17(NIV). Jacob fathered twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel.

Gold Star of David

Gold Star of David

"I Am the Life" / Floral Glory Orb

The Flower symbolizes the Creation and the Messianic Promise stating that Jesus Christ is the way to Heaven.

"I Am the Life" / Floral Glory Orb

"I Am the Life" / Floral Glory Orb

Jacob's Well

Jacob's well was located outside of the town of Sychar and was on Jacob's land. During a long journey, Jesus stopped at that well for water. The pause provided Jesus with an opportunity to present Himself as the life-giving Messiah to a Samaritan woman. Jesus provides His children with "living water" in a spiritual wasteland. The life Jesus gives satisfies all our needs and gives us eternal life.

Jacob's Well

Jacob's Well

Latin Cross

The Latin Cross is the most common form of the Cross. This Cross is a reminder of Jesus's suffering, which provides the gift of Eternal Life.

Latin Cross

Latin Cross

Lily of the Valley

Lilies of the Valley appear in several Christian Bible stories. Some people proclaim that lilies of the valley grew at the Cross's foot, where Mary's tears fell. The Lily's color, white, represents the purity of Christ. Because of its drooping head, the Lily is also a symbol of the humility of Jesus. An expression of Christ's Advent, the Lily of the Valley sprouts in early spring.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

New Gold Star

The star with five points announces the birth of Christ. A prophecy from the Old Testament foretells, "A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel" Numbers 24:17 (NIV). Jacob fathered twelve sons, which became the tribes of Israel. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah.

New Gold Star

New Gold Star

Pearl Crown of Ten Commandments

The Crown Chrismon symbolizes the Kingship of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. The ten points on the Crown represent the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God.

Pearl Crown of Ten Commandments

Pearl Crown of Ten Commandments

Pearl Eternal Circle

The Circle symbolizes Eternity, God the Eternal One, God's eternal love, and eternal life with God.

Pearl Eternal Circle

Pearl Eternal Circle

Resurrection Cross

A new day is symbolized by this Christmon, which has The Rising Sun behind the Cross. This ornament brings to mind the promise of the Forgiveness of Sin.

Resurrection Cross

Resurrection Cross

Tau Cross With Snake

The Tau Cross, the oldest form of the Cross, reveals that similar to Moses' lifting of a Bronze Serpent to save Israel, Christ saved humanity after being raised on a cross.

Tau Cross With Snake

Tau Cross With Snake

Trefoil Cross With Dove

The Three Budded Clover of The Budding Cross or the Cross of Baptism symbolizes the Trinity and represents a Young or New Believer. Represented by the Dove, The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at the time of His Baptism. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment, Heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him" Matthew 3:16 (NIV).

Trefoil Cross With Dove

Trefoil Cross With Dove

Triquetra (Triangle)

The Christmon, with three equal arcs, expresses eternity in its continuous form and indivisibility in its interweaving. It symbolizes the One God who showed Himself to humanity in three separate and distinct persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Triquetra (Triangle)

Triquetra (Triangle)

Wheat and Grapes in Circle

Representing the communion meal elements, the combination of the wheat and grapes is bread and wine, body and blood of Jesus Christ. The ritual recreates and honors the last meal that He had with his disciples before crucifixion and death. It is also used as a representation of a fruitful harvest and to symbolize abundance.

Wheat and Grapes in Circle

Wheat and Grapes in Circle

Epilogue

Standing in front of a tree full of Chrismon decorations is an eye-catching and captivating experience. When you discover the meaning of the ornaments, you cross denominational lines and embrace the heritage of God's pure love.

martin-luther-frances-kipps-spencer-and-chrismons

Sources

300 Chrismons ideas in 2020 | chrismons, chrismon .... https://www.pinterest.com/brendalucillef/chrismons/

Alpha and omega. (n.d.). Retrieved January from https://www.theidioms.com/alpha-and-omega/

Bells. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2021, from https://www.etsy.com/listing/239898396/bells

Chrismons. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/craftersparadiseblg/home/chrismon

ELCA Presiding Bishop Election Message - ELCA. https://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/8077

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cathedralofhope.org/images/spiritual-life/chrismons-elpc.pdf

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://chrismon.org/chrismons-ministry.html

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.danvillemuseum.org/content/uploads/PDF/halloffame/frances_kipps_spencer.pdf

Our Beliefs. (2020, October 20). Retrieved from http://www.ascensionlutheran.org/our-beliefs/

Shepherd, N. (2020, December 18). Faith Lutheran Church. Retrieved from https://www.flcms.org/index.php/2020/12/17/chrismons-are-here/

Spencer, F. (2017, August 07). Chrismons Advanced Series: Instructions for Making The Advanced Series of Chrismons: Paperback. Retrieved from https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chrismons-advanced-series-frances-kipps-spencer/1134300020

The Other Symbols. https://frunner.org/article/The+Other+Symbols

Wheat & Grapes in Circle. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.etsy.com/listing/239605266/wheat-grapes-in-circle

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Odell Jr