|Photo by Viriditas 1/1/2012|
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Colors of Christmas: White, Silver, Gold and Brown
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