Advent Series: Highlighting the Chrismon Tree 2014

Advent Christmas 2014
Year B
Highlighting the Chrismon Tree

The Chrismon Tree is a relatively new option for sharing the story of God’s love. Started in 1957 by Frances Kipps Spencer at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, the tradition caught on and spread quickly…long before the Internet! This year, our church is using the parts of the Chrismon Tree to help us slowly prepare for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. For more details on the history of the Chrismons, see the Ascension Lutheran Church Chrismons Ministry.

For other details on ornaments and symbols, see these sites:
Chrismon Customs
and Chrismon Symbols

And so here are 4 sermons for Advent and 1 for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day:
1st Sunday in Advent–Nov 30Mark 13:24-37–Wrapping the Chrismon Tree’s base with a tree skirt
2nd Sunday in Advent–Dec 7Mark 1:1-8-Ornaments will already be on the top ¾ of the tree; children will hang ornaments on the lower branches
3rd Sunday in Advent–Dec 14John 1:6-8, 19-28–The lights (yes, strung before the 2nd Sunday but not lit) will be turned on during the children’s sermon
4th Sunday in Advent–Dec 21Luke 1:26-38–The angel treetopper will be on the tree
Christmas Eve–Dec 24Luke 2:1-14 (15-20); 1 John 4:7-9, 16b; John 1:1-5–Christ is Born!

And we have another song! To go with our theme, we have adapted O Christmas Tree into O Chrismon Tree. Verses are provided below with their appropriate Sunday or you can see all of them together by clicking here. Thanks to Jill and Bill and Amanda for your musical help!

*

for Sunday, November 30, 2014
1st Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Mark 13:24-37
prop: Just the bare Chrismon Tree, no ornaments, no lights, nothing. Have a tree skirt for this sermon. You might also have a real pine branch for illustration purposes if your church tree is artificial.

Welcome!

We are now in the Season of Advent, the time when we prepare ourselves for Christmas. Christmas is such a big joyful mystery that we take a whole month to prepare! This year, we will spend the 4 Sundays of Advent talking about our church decoration known as the Chrismon Tree. Wait? Don’t I mean Christmas Tree? No, our church tree is called a Chrismon Tree. Everyone say after me: Chrismon Tree (Chrismon Tree). The first Christmas trees were used over 500 years ago, and we decorate the ones in our homes to celebrate and share our family’s traditions. The first Chrismon Tree was created just over 50 years ago. A woman named Frances Kipps Spencer wanted to make something new out of an old tradition, so she decorated a tree for her church to celebrate and share the old and new story of God’s love for each of us. Mrs. Spencer named this a Chrismon Tree, adding together the word Christ with the word Monogram which are letters showing ownership; so a Chrismon Tree is a tree belonging to Christ.

But now I’m sure you are wondering why the tree isn’t decorated? Ahhh…first things first. As we said, the Season of Advent is the time we prepare for Christmas; and because Christmas is such a big joyful mystery we take a whole month to prepare…and we take a whole month to prepare so we can prepare slowly. Not slowly like we sit around doing nothing, but slowly like we take time to appreciate each step of our preparation.

Okay, but that still doesn’t explain why the Chrismon Tree is not decorated! Again, first things first. Let’s just look at the tree. Honestly, our tree is an artificial tree…that means it is not a living tree that grows outside. But it is a model of a real kind of tree, a real tree known as an evergreen tree. Do you hear that description? Ever. Green. Evergreen trees have these small pointy greens leaves; and evergreen trees hold these green leaves all year long, unlike other trees that lose their leaves each fall and are bare through the winter. We use evergreen trees at Christmas to remind us that God’s love for us is unchanging. God’s love for us is very old, and yet God’s love for us is also new. God has loved us, God does love us, and God will love us. Always.

And so on the First Sunday in Advent, we have placed the tree here in the front of the sanctuary to remind us of God’s unchanging love. We start decorating our Chrismon Tree by wrapping this blanket (tree skirt…whatever your terminology) around the base of the tree. Our Bible story today tells us to be ready. We have set the tree, the foundation for our Advent Chrismon Tree. Christmas will be here soon; but the first Christmas has already come. God’s love for us is unchanging; it is forever and ever.

Next Sunday we will see how this story continues.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this First Sunday in Advent
we are reminded
that Your love for us
is unchanging,
old and new,
forever.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 1 for Advent 1
Branches green the whole year through
Show us God is old and new.

**

for Sunday, December 7, 2014
2nd Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Ornaments of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Mark 1:1-8
prop: Prior to this Sunday string the lights (but they won’t be lit until Advent 3!) and hang the ornaments on the top ¾ of the tree. (Do not place that angel treetopper…that’s for Advent 4.) Have child-friendly ornaments for the children to hang during the sermon. As each church has different ornaments, you will need to choose the ones you have to highlight in this sermon. [Sites with ornament meanings: Chrismon Customs and Chrismon Symbols] This is the time to explain where your church got your ornaments: are they homemade by someone still in your church? or from long ago? a child’s grandparent? Share what the symbols mean as well as the personal stories of your ornaments. Prepare a time during Sunday School to share the different symbols and meanings.

Welcome!

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. We are slowly preparing for the big joyful mystery of Christmas! I’m sure you are noticing that our Chrismon Tree looks a bit different this Sunday. Last week on the First Sunday in Advent, we had just the bare tree here. We learned that we use a type of tree called evergreen to remind us that God is old and new; that God has always loved us and will always love us. God is unchanging.

Today the tree is hung with ornaments. Notice that they are all white and gold. White for purity. Gold for the Glory of God. Notice that they have different symbols. These ornaments tell the story of Jesus. [We see ornaments with stars…like the Star of Bethlehem. We see the Shepherd’s Crook…like the shepherds who came to Baby Jesus, and how we call Jesus the Great Shepherd. We see the Dove…Jesus brings Peace to the world. We see the Heart…Jesus loves us and God is love. We see many different crosses…we celebrate the birth of Jesus but also His continued life through Easter! The cross on this ornament is called the Jerusalem Cross and it was stitched by Cherry’s grandmother before Cherry’s father was even born!]

I wonder if you have noticed that only the top portion of the tree is decorated with ornaments? That’s because we want you to help! Each of you can come get an ornament to put on these empty branches down low. The symbols may seem unknown to you…but during Sunday School we will explain what each one means. Then you will know what part of the story of Jesus’s Church you have helped share!

Our Bible story today shares the message of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who helped prepare the way for Jesus to share God’s love. The ornaments of our Chrismon Tree continue to share the message of the Church, telling us about Jesus and His love for us.

And I see you noticed that there are lights on the tree…but they are not lit. Remember, we are preparing for Christmas slowly. We will see what is next on the Third Sunday of Advent.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Second Sunday in Advent
we hang the ornaments
showing symbols
that share the story
of Your love
for us.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 2 for Advent 2
Ornaments of white and gold
Are symbols of the Church of old.

***

for Sunday, December 14, 2014
3rd Sunday in Advent
Year B
The Lights of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: John 1:6-8, 19-28
prop: the lights on the tree…flip the switch during the sermon.

Welcome!

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent! We are getting closer to Christmas! The Chrismon Tree looks almost totally decorated! Almost, but not quite. Advent is a time that we prepare slowly for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We began our journey with the bare Chrismon Tree, reminding us that God is unchanging and loves us always. Last week, we placed the ornaments of white and gold that tell the story of Jesus and His love for us. Today our Bible story continues sharing about John, the cousin of Jesus. The words used say that John came to announce that Jesus is the Light.

And so I wonder if you can figure out what we are going to add to the Chrismon Tree today? Right! It is finally time to light the lights! Zach will you push the button, please? Ohh. Ahh. The tree was already beautiful but the lights make it shine. And this shining makes the beauty extend out into the room. Like John in the Bible, the lights of the Chrismon Tree remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. When we have Jesus in our hearts, we shine God’s love out into the world.

Light shines fast, but we are preparing slowly for Christmas. I’m afraid I can’t imagine what else we can add to the tree!

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Third Sunday in Advent
we light the lights
proclaiming
You are the Light.
Help us
to shine Your love
everywhere
all the time.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 3 for Advent 3
The lights are lit and shining bright!
Remind us Jesus is the light.

****

for Sunday, December 21, 2014
4th Sunday of Advent
Year B
The Angel Treetopper of the Chrismon Tree
lectionary focus: Luke 1:26-38
prop: the angel treetopper (already placed)

Welcome!

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We are so close to Christmas that it may seem time is speeding up, but remember, we are preparing slowly for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We want to appreciate each step along the way.

We began our season with the bare Chrismon Tree, reminding us that God is old and new and unchanging. On the Second Sunday of Advent, we added the ornaments symbols of the story of the Church and Jesus and God’s love. Then last week on the Third Sunday, we finally lit the lights proclaiming Jesus as the Light of the World! But what about today? I’m wondering if you notice anything different about the tree? Yes! At the very top! There is an angel!

In our Bible story today, we hear about Mary learning that she will be the mother of Jesus. Mary gets this news from an angel. When the angel first appears, Mary is a little surprised. I think I would be pretty stunned to meet an angel, too. And then to learn that God is calling her to such an important job! But the angel says, “Fear Not! God is with you.” This blessing gives Mary the strength to respond with joy and she says, “I am the servant of the Lord!”

God calls each of us to do important jobs. And sometimes we all just need to stop and remember: Fear Not. God is with us. And so, atop our Chrismon Tree, we have an angel reminding us that God is always with us and that we do not need to fear what God calls us to do. Like Mary, we can joyfully be servants of the Lord.

After we pray, we will sing our Advent song…(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it; then lead the children in the chorus and verse of O Chrismon Tree.)

Dear Lord,
On this Fourth Sunday in Advent
we hear the angel
Fear Not!
and we know
that You are with us always.
Amen

And now O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 4 for Advent 4
The angel sits atop the tree
Says Fear Not to you and me.

*****

for Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Christmas Eve
Year B
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-14 (15-20); 1 John 4:7-9, 16b; John 1:1-5
prop: the Chrismon Tree

Welcome!

And so we have spent the past four weeks taking a slow approach to Christmas. We have slowly decorated the Chrismon Tree as we have slowly prepared for the big joyful mystery of Christmas. We started with just the bare evergreen tree, reminding us that God is old and new and unchanging. On the Second Sunday in Advent, we hung the white and gold ornaments with their symbols of the Church and Jesus and God’s love. On the Third Sunday, we finally lit the lights, shining the beauty out into the world and reminding us that Jesus is the Light. This past Sunday, we topped our tree with the angel, hearing again the words “Fear Not! God is with you!”

So I wonder if our tree is finished? A little over 50 years ago, the first Chrismon Tree was decorated in Danville, VA, by a woman named Frances Kipp Spencer. She said “a tree was never finished until someone came to see it and have the story of Christ explained to them through the ornaments.”

So I wonder if our tree is finished? I wonder if we can do more?

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Tonight we hear the story of the birth of Jesus told from the Old Testament to the New Testament. And in all these stories, we hear one of my favorite lines. After the angels appear to the shepherds in the fields telling them about the Baby Jesus, the shepherds head to Bethlehem. The Bible story says, “They went with haste…” Those shepherds, those regular guys, did not move slowly. They went quickly; they hurried to do what God called them to do. Tonight is Christmas Eve. We have prepared slowly, but now it is time for us, too, to go with haste, to hurry to do the important job God has given us. It is time for us to hurry and share God’s love.

Say after me:
Alleluia! (Alleluia!)
It is Christmas! (It is Christmas!)
Heaven comes to Earth! (Heaven comes to Earth!)
God loves us all! (God loves us all!)
Alleluia! (Alleluia!)
Amen! (Amen!)

And now we will sing all of our verses of O Chrismon Tree:

Chorus
O Chrismon Tree, O Chrismon Tree
Helping share God’s story.

Verse 1
Branches green the whole year through
Show us God is old and new.

Verse 2
Ornaments of white and gold
Are symbols of the Church of old.

Verse 3
The lights are lit and shining bright!
Remind us Jesus is the light.

Verse 4
The angel sits atop the tree
Says Fear Not to you and me.

Verse 5 for Christmas Eve
Christmas Day Christ has His birth,
A time when Heaven comes to Earth.

******

Merry Christmas!
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

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4 responses to “Advent Series: Highlighting the Chrismon Tree 2014

  1. Very creative approach to Advent children’s sermon this year. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Wednesday Festival: Advent Planning | RevGalBlogPals

  3. Pingback: Advent and Christmas 2015: Highlighting the Advent Wreath | on the chancel steps

  4. Pingback: Advent and Christmas 2016 | on the chancel steps

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