Decorating the Chrismon Tree
The families of Congregational Church of Pinehurst enjoy an annual tradition of gathering at church on the first Sunday afternoon in December to decorate for the holidays and share a simple supper. The biggest task is also the favorite -- trimming the magnificent Chrismon tree. Boxes and boxes of treasured white ornaments are gently unwrapped and hung. Each is a unique piece of art based on one of 40 different traditional designs.
The symbolism of the individual Chrismon ornaments is explained in an illustrated booklet, "The Symbolism of the Chrismon Tree," which is available at the church.
The term Chrismon is a compound of Christ and monogram. Early believers used symbols of their faith in days when it was dangerous to be a Christian. They resorted to secret signs to keep from exposing themselves unnecessarily to their foes, and they worshiped in secret in large underground passages. Visiting Christians would find their way to the worship center by simply looking at the fish symbol on the wall pointing in the direction in which they were to go.
Each ornament on the Chrismon tree presents a different symbol from the rich tradition of Christian art. They are the "sign language" of the faith. All the decorations are made in white or combinations of white and gold beads. White is the liturgical color for Christmas and refers to Christ's purity and holiness. Gold refers to Christ's majesty and glory. The evergreen tree symbolizes the growth of the Christian journey, and the tiny lights on the tree are symbolic of "Christ -- the Light of the World."
In the spring of 1994, the Congregational Church of Pinehurst began preparing for its first Chrismon tree. The Women's Fellowship donated an evergreen tree, which was selected and placed in the sanctuary by the Men's Fellowship under the leadership of Howard Paden.
Lillian Blackstone and Marilyn Humphreys led the team of members who gave freely of their time and artistic talent to provide the church with the beautiful Chrismons in use today: Janet Agnew, Wanda Becker, Nancy Holmberg, Betty Hurst, Ruth Kromholz, Mary Lou Mathis, Madeline Mendelson, Jane Reed, Nan Sinclair, Marge Stanton, Carol Tempel, Irene Thomas, Joanne Walsh and Elaine Worthington.
Betsy Cadieu cherishes her memories of that spirited fellowship.
"I think of all the wonderful women of this church who created these ornaments -- their skilled hands and the joy they shared working together to make this beautiful gift," she says. "So many of them are gone now, but we are blessed still by their presence among us. I see their faces in this tree."
"Pastor Brent Bissette and the congregation invite everyone to come see their very special tree and read more about the individual ornaments," says a spokesman.
Congregational Church of Pinehurst is located at 895 Linden Road in Pinehurst, across the street from Elliott's on Linden. Sunday morning worship is at 10 a.m., followed by fellowship with light refreshments. The Christmas Eve service with candlelight, choral music and communion starts at 5 p.m.
For more information, call (910) 295-2243.
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