IMG_1311These are two of the eighteen Chrismons (Christian monograms) we hung once again on our Christmas tree. Judy and I made these Chrismons in the fall of 1974 when I was the Youth Minister for Woodlawn Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. We are hanging them on our tree for the 40th time.

IMG_1310-2They are simple designs of traditional Christian symbols cut from Styrofoam, sprayed with glue and covered with glitter. It’s amazing to me that they are still intact. They are light and delicate but somehow they have held together all these years, sometimes with a little glue.

We led a small group in making them that fall of ’74. Barry Criner cut out many sets on his coping saw using the patterns we supplied. Each person in the group glittered their set the way they wanted. Joan Hoffman made the Chrismons that was used on the church tree.

We took time during the group to talk about each of the designs and the significance in Christian history. The Celtic Cross, the Alpha and Omega, the Chi Rho, the Icthus (fish). We savored the experience and the relationships that were deepened by our artistic efforts. We each walked away with a set of ornaments that, for me at least, have been the focus of our tree for four decades.

The Chrismons remind me where I come from. They also remind how far I have traveled logistically and theologically since those days. The beginnings as well as the journey are both important to remember.

The Chrismons are symbols, small objects that point me toward a larger reality. They are a means to an end, just as Christmas itself is a means to an end. They are of little value as objects, but they are valuable to me as reminders of people and experiences that helped me grow up. They remind me of where I used to be, and how important it was to have that as my base camp from which I ventured.

The Biblical prophecies, facts, and legends all mingled together give us the various Christmas stories we read and memorize. The Chrismons point to these and remind me how humble beginnings and simple acts can have far-reaching, transformative effects.