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Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Turlock, CA

Pastor's Thoughts for December 2009


Each month our pastor writes to us from our Turlock church to share his thoughts on a topic of religious significance. His goal is to link the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and apply it to the context of our daily lives. Although each of these messages is dated they are in fact timeless in their spiritual significance.

Symbols Of Christmas

As we prepare in Advent for Christmas, one of the more popular ways of preparing is getting out all those things that are symbols of Christmas. Here are a few.

The color is white. It adorns our altar during Christmas and Epiphany. White is the color of purity, reflective of the purity of the conception and birth of Jesus. It speaks of cleanness, life, radiance, and happiness.

The Star is another symbol. Stars are the voices of heaven. They speak from a world quite beyond the human reach. To the mariner they give location, to the worker in the dark of night they tell the hour of the night. To all men they speak of a constant God who never fails. Such also is the message of Christmas and Epiphany.

One can scarcely think of Christmas without the symbol of The Bell. It has a happy tone at Christmas time, for it is the joyful reminder of the world’s most happy event. Everyone is caught up in the spirit of the ringing of the yuletide bells.

The Christmas candle to the Christian speaks with the special glow of warmth and radiance, a living message, announcing not that the search is on but that it is over. Christ has come, the light is here, and is now casting its beam across the nations. It is a reflection of a fulfillment of hope and expectation.

The Christmas wreath, usually made of evergreens or holly, speaks of the continuing life which is the Christmas message. The holly speaks of the crown of thorns, with its red berries representing the drops of blood brought out by the sharp thorns on the brow of the suffering Savior. The circular shape of the wreath tells of the love of God, eternal, without beginning and without end; this is the perfect message of Christmas.

The Crèche is one of the most vivid expressions of the Christmas story and one of the most commonly used. It is simply a miniature model of the much-loved manger scene. The word “crèche” comes from the French, even though the symbol seems to have originated in Italy where it was known as the ‘Presepio”.

Christmas gifts are given as a token of human love and esteem. In the real spirit of the season it is properly thought of as a reflection of God’s love so generously expressed in the giving of His Son, the greatest gift of all.

And the Greeting Cards are sent to let people know you are thinking about them at this very special time of the year. Great care must be taken that the greeting card is used for its most joyful and helpful purpose. The spiritual emphasis must be protected with care. The sentiments expressed must be reverent and dignified. They must be a true witness to the faith.

The Poinsettia has become the more popular of the Christmas plant symbols. In the form of a star, it is a reminder of the Star of the East that led the Wise Men to the place of the Nativity.

There are more. But the most recognized of all symbols is the Christmas Tree. In rich variety they come: spruce, fir, pine, red cedar, arbor vitae, and others, reminding the “people of God” that in the darkness of winter’s sleep, life goes on. In a sentimental way the ornaments are carried from year to year, expressing traditions and life experiences that blend together at Christmas time with rich significance.

And Advent is the season when we get ready for all that. Without our recognition of what the Christmas event is all about, the celebration is nothing but an escapism, and meaningless as a spiritual renewal, something we truly need every year.

So, let’s get ready. Celebrate Advent in a spiritual way so that you don’t miss Christmas.

-Pastor Starkey