|Photo by Daniel Zanetti 2013|
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year! May you and yours enjoy 2016 and until He comes again by being in the center of His perfect plan for your life. May you enjoy this repost from the archives.
Even when the world’s focus is on commercialism and overspending, the colors of Christmas surround us in this season, reminding us of His free gift of salvation. As we saw last time, red and green symbolize His precious blood, shed so that all who place their faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) will have eternal life!
The other colors of Christmas – snowy white, glittering gold and silver, and even humble brown all add to the rich symbolism of holiday décor. Even though this symbolism is probably far from the minds of most merchants, we can be blessed by the meaning and use it to witness to others.
White at Christmas time reminds us of angel robes (Matthew 28:3) and wings and of snowflakes falling, as pristine as Christ is pure and completely without sin (Psalm 51:7). The glorified body of Christ was clothed in shining robes “white as snow” when He appeared to Daniel as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9), to the inner circle of apostles at His transfiguration (Mark 9:3), and to John at His revelation (Revelation 1:14).
The nativity scene would be incomplete without white sheep led by shepherds, emphasizing the importance of our following the Good Shepherd and depending on Him for all we do (Psalm 23). The purity of white reminds us that Jesus is the lily of the valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1), and that the Holy Spirit took on the appearance of a dove as Jesus was baptized (Matthew.3:16).
White combines with red in the candy cane, a familiar motif at Christmas time. Legend has it that a candy maker designed this confection to serve as a witness to his Christian faith and to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. The stick of candy was white to symbolize the Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35)) and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the solid Rock, the Foundation of the Church (2 Samuel 22:3,47; Psalm 18:2,46;62:2,6, etc. Matthew 16:18).
The candy cane is in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus, as well as the staff of the Good, Great and Chief Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11,15; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4); . It has a large red stripe for the blood shed by Christ on the cross (Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:20), and three small stripes to show the stripes of the whipping Jesus received, by which we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).
Silver and white both remind us of the Star of Bethlehem that showed the wise men where to find the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:9), and Jesus Himself is described as the Morning Star (Revelation 22:16). Silver bells remind us to praise our King with joyful noise (Exodus 39:26), yet silver also foretells Jesus’ crucifixion and death, for Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).
Silver also reminds us that God sometimes allows us to go through trials and tribulations, just as silver is purified in the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:3). We should therefore be grateful for trials and tribulations that are like the refiner’s fire because they shape our character, drive away our sins, and make us more like Christ (Philippians 4:11-14).
Gold, the most precious metal, was one of the gifts the wise men brought Jesus (Matthew 2:11). It reminds us that we should bring our very best gifts to the King, whether in terms of our time, talents, money or possessions. In Christmas decorations, the instruments played by the angels are usually gold, reminding us that we should praise Him in all that we do (Psalm 100:4, etc.; Colossians 3:23).
When we face Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ, only those works we did for Him for the right motives will last through the fire of judgment, like silver, gold, and jewels. The rest will burn up like hay, wood and stubble and we will suffer loss. But those good works we did for Him alone will last through the fire and we will have crowns to lay at Jesus’ feet (I Corinthians:3:10-15). And in Heaven, the streets are paved with gold (Revelation 21:21), symbolizing the unimaginable splendor of this special place God has prepared for us!
Brown is not usually a color we think of as being a Christmas color, but we see it in the lowly manger where Christ was born (Luke 2:7), and in the donkey that, according to tradition, carried Mary to Bethlehem, and later carried Jesus to Jerusalem where He would die (John 12:14-15). We also see it in the stable animals that attended His birth, and in the robes of the shepherds (Luke 2:7-8).
Brown is a color of humility, reminding us that Jesus came to earth not as a mighty King, but as a meek Servant, and that we should follow His example (John 13:4-17). It reminds us of the wooden cross He carried up Calvary’s hill, where He was crucified and died for all our sins, only to rise triumphantly, conquering death and sin that all who trust Him would have eternal life (1 Corinthians1:18; Galatians. 6:14; Hebrews 12:2).
It is unusual to see the cross in Christmas décor (although I am thrilled that my husband added one to our outdoor nativity)! But Christmas floral arrangements and greenery often feature the brown pinecone, which looks dead and yet carries the seeds of new life. What a beautiful reminder to die daily to our sins so that we can live in the new life of the Spirit, and that Christ has conquered death so that His followers can live forever! (1 Corinthians 15:31; 35-57; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
© 2013 Laurie Collett
Saturday, December 19, 2015
May all of you and yours have a blessed Christmas with your loved ones, with the peace, love and joy found only in Jesus Christ. Praise God for His unspeakable gift! I hope you enjoy this repost from the archives.
In recent years the Christmas holiday, at least as the world celebrates it, is becoming less and less about Christ and more about foolish fables (2 Timothy 4:4). Nativity scenes are replaced by Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty; Christmas pageants give way to Winter Festivals, and stores say Happy Holidays so as not to offend Muslims or those of other religions.
The early Christians adopted a code so that they could identify with each other and communicate with each other even in times of persecution. The Jesus fish symbol originated from initials that spell “fish” in Greek, or “IXOYE” but stand for "Jesus, Christ, God's Son, Savior." This was a form of witness and also helped Christians distinguish between friend and foe. When traveling, if a Christian met another person, the Christian would draw half the fish (half a crescent) in the sand. If the other person completed the fish, he or she was also a Christian.
Persecution of believers will increase as Christ’s second coming draws near (Matthew 5:11-12). Although Christians are not yet being persecuted in the United States, our right to display symbols and statements of Christianity is already being challenged, and even military chaplains are warned not to pray in Jesus’ name. The Ten Commandments are leaving courthouses; “One nation under God” is being questioned in the Pledge of Allegiance; Christian prayer is no longer allowed in public schools; and recently atheists were allowed to put up a sign ridiculing faith right next to a manger scene.
It may become useful to have a symbolic code, so that when we see the bright colors of winter decorations, we can remind ourselves and each other of the true meaning of Christmas. In this season, born-again believers celebrate God so loving the world that He sent His only Son to us in human form (John 3:16, 1:14) In that way, Jesus could know and suffer all that we do, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He died for all our sins as the perfect sacrifice, reconciling sinners with a holy and just God, so that all who ask for forgiveness of their sin and turn to Him can have eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:4,18-19; Hebrews 2:17).
We can use the colors of Christmas as a way to witness to unsaved people, so that if they admire a beautiful Christmas tree, we can explain the symbolism of the colors. This may open the door for us to talk about Christ and to share what He has done for us.
For centuries, Christians have used many commonplace objects to witness to others and as a reminder of their faith. The five fingers can represent different types of people we should remember in prayer; and a deck of cards helps us remember the Word of God (One God, Two Testaments, Three for the Trinity, Four Gospels, etc.). A German choirmaster designed the candy cane to symbolize the story of Christ; and the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” represents different elements of the Christmas story.
God Himself, the Master Designer (John 1:3; Genesis 1-2), liberally used symbols in His creation to tell salvation’s story. The sand dollar bears the image of the poinsettia, the Easter lily, and the Star of Bethlehem; has five piercings like those Christ received on the cross; and contains white doves symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Even the Abyssinian variety of donkey that tradition says carried Mary into Bethlehem bears the mark of the cross on its back.
Similarly, the colors we traditionally associate with Christmas each have special meanings that reflect different aspects of Christ’s life and God’s plan of salvation.
Green is the traditional color of the Christmas tree, with the evergreen representing eternal life because its needles are always green. If we trust in the promises of God’s Word, we too will never die, but will enjoy eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 3: 16; 1 Corinthians 15). Green gives the promise of new life that we see in the first green leaves of spring. Just as the tree in winter looks dead, we are dead in sin until we are born again (John 3:3-8) by repenting of our sins and asking Christ into our hearts as our personal Savior (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). In Chirst, we are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But Christ came not only to give us eternal life, but more abundant life here and now! (John 10:10). At least in the United States, green is also the color of money, and all people depend on the food energy of green plants for their physical sustenance (Genesis 9:3). Green therefore reminds us that God will always provide for our physical as well as our spiritual needs (Matthew 7:11; Psalm 23:2; 52:8).
A green light is also a universal traffic signal that means Go! Jesus’ last words to His disciples before ascending into Heaven were to Go and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) It encourages us to follow the Holy Spirit so that we will go forward on our Christian walk, growing more like Jesus every day, following God’s perfect will for our lives.
At Christmas time, we enjoy the colors green and red together in the holly plant and its berries. Like the pine, the holly is evergreen, and the needle-sharp, prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns worn by Christ as He was crucified (John 19:5). The red berries symbolize each drop of precious blood Jesus shed for us on Calvary’s cross for the remission of our sins (Matt 26:28):. His blood washes us clean so that when God sees us, He sees not our sin, but the perfect sacrifice of His blameless Son (Hebrews 9: 11-13; John 1:7).
Red and green also adorn the poinsettia, which is another Christmas symbol of how God meets the needs of believers in Him (Matthew 6:8,32). The legend of this plant tells of a poor boy from a Mexican village who wanted to give the Holy Child a gift but had no money. In desperation, he picked some weeds on his way to church to leave as his gift. He prayed to God to help him show his love, and God answered by turning the weeds into a beautiful star-shaped flower with bright red leaves.
Just as “green” means go, “red” means stop – - our sinful ways, our wicked thoughts, our sinful lifestyle (1 Peter 4:1). And yet, red also symbolizes fire or passion. God wants us to be on fire for Him as He is a consuming fire (Heb.12:29; Revelation 19:12), our hearts burning with His Word (Jeremiah 20:9; Luke 24:32) and our lives burning brightly with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3).
As we admire the bright red and green of the season, may these colors ignite our passion for Christ, Who came in the flesh to save us! May we boldly proclaim His love to others gathered around the holiday décor! As we shall see next time, white snow, silver tinsel and bells, and gold ornaments all have their own tale to tell of the Good News!
© 2013 Laurie Collett
© 2015 Laurie Collett