...Know, Grow, Go, Show, Sow
By Joyce Kight, Director of Christian Resources
Chrismons are being used in the greens in the main area of the Church Library. The ones we have were made and donated to the Church by former member, Joy Spencer. I do not know if Joy is related to Frances Spencer who originated the concept and brought it to fruition in her church in 1957, then gave the copyright on the word “Chrismons” to Ascension Lutheran Church, Danville, VA. Here is some history to help us more fully understand about Chrismons.
Frances Kipps Spencer
In 1957, Frances Kipps Spencer began thinking of a way to decorate the Christmas tree in her church that would be more suitable for a sanctuary. She thought that the usual brightly colored Christmas ornaments were just not appropriate for a setting of worship, so she began researching and looking for something that would reflect the Christian faith.
Mrs. Spencer began by trying to imagine herself in the shoes of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She asked, "How would Mary celebrate Jesus' birthday?" The answer from our culture and time period would have a cake and candles and his name on it. Mrs. Spencer then looked upon the traditional Christmas tree as a cake and placed on the tree the name Jesus and his title Christ. Instead of using the name and title in English, however, she used Greek monograms. Thus the letters in Greek, "Chi Rho," became one of the earliest Chrismons because they are monograms for Christos , the Greek word for Christ. The word chrismons itself is a combination of the words Christ and Monogram.
Simple monograms of Jesus Christ, as well as a few crosses, decorated the first Chrismons tree. As the beauty and meaning of Chrismons attracted people, Frances Spencer
added other designs, which were copies in present day material, of signs and symbols used by the earliest Christians. These later ornaments grew more sophisticated in meaning and complex in execution. She began to create original designs that depicted Biblical teachings and events. For example, in 1960, a large figure 8 that delineated the Christian year, which follows the life of Christ, was added to the tree. In another case, at her husband's suggestion, Mrs. Spencer created a series of Chrismons based on the Beatitudes and added to the tree in 1968.
According to the dictionary, a chrismon is a monogram of Christ. But the chrismons as ornaments are more than monograms; they may also tell about Jesus Christ. As the designs grew in number, they included references to the life, ministry, activities, nature and teaching of Jesus. Thus the Chrismons as symbols always point beyond themselves to God. Indeed, the vital feature of the concept is that each design must proclaim some truth about God as seen in Jesus. As the years passed, the Chrismons idea spread beyond Christmas. The ornaments have become meaningful decorations in homes and public places throughout the entire year. People employ them in table settings, in shadow boxes, on bookmarks, and on banners. Some are even styled for use as Christian wedding cake toppers.
Mrs. Spencer also wrote an illustrated five books about the Chrismons: Chrismons; Basic Series (1959); Chrismons: Christian Year Series (1961); Chrismons: Advanced Series (1965); Chrismons for Every Day (1971); and Chrismons (1970) [246.55/Spe]. Through these books, the Chrismons idea reached countries all over the world. Churches of every Christian denomination used the idea to communicate that Christmas is indeed the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as to help
their members learn more about Jesus. Some follow the patterns in the books to the last detail, while others use the instructions as a starting point and as the books encourage them to do, translate the ideas into native media. Because members of different churches often join to make Chrismons, the program has had a marked ecumenical impact. Through the Chrismons, many Christians have discovered the similarities rather than the differences in denominations. What began by Frances Kipps Spencer at Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, has been called the most significant contribution to Christian symbolism in the twentieth century.
Throughout the creation and development of Chrismons, Mrs. Spencer has never personally profited monetarily. Certainly the acceptance and sharing of the idea was a source of great gratitude to her. There is no question that the ornaments were a help and inspiration to Christians all over the world, and that was the only compensation that Mrs. Spencer ever desired.
May these symbols continually remind you of God’s greatest gift to us all, Jesus Christ.
Come on in and check it out.
Begins the Sunday before Thanksgiving
By Joyce Kight, Director of Christian Resources
A week devoted to encouraging people to read the Bible, in the belief that it will arouse a positive spiritual force in a world plagued with problems. National Bible Week is promoted by the National Bible Association (originally the Laymen's National Committee), a non-denominational group of businessmen founded in 1940 and devoted to the application of the Golden Rule in daily life. A huge audience listened to the NBC radio program that was broadcast to kick off the first National Bible Week scheduled for December 8-14, 1941.
The Church Library materials are Bible based with the goal of helping you in your walk of faith.
• Hadassah [F/Ten/Had/1] by Tommy Tenney. Both a palace thriller and a Jewish woman's memoir, this book brings the age-old story of Esther to life in this pivotal time in religious history.
• Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews / Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles [220.77/Cal] by John Calvin.
• Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament [225.61 Hou] by H. Wayne House. Covers issues of canon, gospel studies, textual criticism, biblical theology, ancient history, and numerous others.
• The World before the Flood and the History of the Patriarchs [220.67/Ede/His/1] by Alfred Edersheim.
• The Gospel According to Jesus: what is authentic faith? [230/ McA] by John MacArthur. Offers clear Biblical explanations of Christ's own ministry and to what saving faith in Him actually amounts.
• Alive in Christ [T248.2/Hi] by Monty Hipp. A discipleship series for new believers in Jesus Christ designed to help gain a practical understanding of who Jesus is and how to apply your faith in Him to your everyday life.
◊ Part 1: Guess What Happened to Me!
◊ Part 2: Alive to Win!
◊ Part 3: Alive to Follow
◊ Part 4: Alive in the Word!
◊ Part 5: Alive to Pray!
◊ Part 6: Alive to Worship!
◊ Part 7: Alive to Share!
◊ Part 8: Alive as Part of the Body!
• My favorite Bible Storybook for Toddlers [BB/C220.9505/Lar] by Carolyn Larsen. These stories of the Bible come alive with colorful pictures, memorable lessons, and fun flaps that add moments of learning for toddlers.
• Bunny Loves Others [C241.4/ Sim] by Mary Manz Simon. The book ends in one Bible verse. What a great way to talk to your children about God. This book helps you show children how God is part of your everyday life in everything you do.
• God Made the World [C222.11/ Dan] by Dandi Daley Mackall. Questions are asked and answered with a fresh new approach. For increased reader retention, be sure to encourage your child to point out the main object or person.
• I'd Like to Ask God [J220.9/Spi] by Nancy Spiegelberg. Includes whimsical questions a child might ask of Bible characters from the past about God's wonderful care and provisions.
Come on in, and check it out!
Our expanded church library is open when the church is open and anyone can check out materials. Here's how:
Select materials you wish to borrow. Remove the circulation card and write in your name (and phone number if not a church member).Then place card in the check out box.
Books may be checked out up to 3 weeks; all other materials 1 week. When returning materials, place them in the top drawer of the lateral file cabinet marked "Returned materials."
Parents, here are some tips for helping your child select books appropriate to his/her reading level:
Have your child read the first page or two of the book. Ask them to hold up 1 finger for every word they don't know. If they hold up 5 fingers while reading, consider this a "read it to me" book, rather than a book to read on their own. If they hold up only 2-3 fingers, you've found a "just right" book.
Joyce Kight, our director of Christian resources, manages one of the largest Christian lending libraries in the area. She has spent over 30 years in library ministry (nearly 20 of them with us!), sharing her love of God and books and supporting congregational libraries. Read Joyce's story.
Hadassah: One Night with the King
By Tommy Tenney
Thursday, November 21
Synopsis: Against a vividly painted historical backdrop, bestselling author Tommy Tenney breathes life into the incredible story of Hadassah, a simple peasant girl who is chosen over 127 other young women to become Esther, queen of Persia. Was it her beauty alone, or did she know an important and mysterious truth?
By Dan Walsh
Tuesday, Dec. 17
Synopsis: Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He's never liked Art and resents the man's presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick's attitude sours even more. Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons--as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day--work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.
The book discussion groups are open to all adult readers. Copies of the books are available in the church library.