This article is from Issue 28 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be printed for use in local congregations only.
DECORATING A TREE – with the meaning of Christmas. by Joy Merritt
“We made this crown to put on the tree. It reminds us that Jesus was called King of the Jews, although he wasn’tthe kind of king some people expected him to be. It reminds us, too, of the story of the three kings. bringing gifts to the child Jesus. We’d like everybody to sing the carol “We Three Kings” as we put our crown on the Tree”.
It was the Sunday morning before Christmas. A bare Christmas tree was receiving the first touch of meaning. Our Worship in the Round Group has been in existence for long enough now for us to have a few traditions of our own. One of these isa sharing service on the last Sunday before Christmas.
We have a bare Christmas tree in the room where we meet for worship. Unlike most Sundays, no one person or family group is responsible for leading the whole service. Instead, everyone has been asked to contribute in two ways — either as an individual or as a family unit.
The first of these is to bring along something to hang on the tree which for them symbolises some part of the meaning of Christmas.
The second is to plan a segment of the service —perhaps a Bible reading, or prayer, or poem, or thought, or even a dramatic or musical presentation — or perhaps simply a request for everybody to sing
a particular song. People who feel unable to lead a whole service seem happy to contribute something
on this occasion.
When the tree has been decorated with all our symbols, we gather around it to break the bread and share the wine as we do each week, and then to join hands and say the blessing together.
Sometimes it is possible to offer the tree for use in one of the other worship services of the church that day, so that the meaning we have brought to it can be shared with others.
Here are a few examples of the symbols which have been hung on our trees:
— a long chain of figures holding hands (cut from paper that was first folded concertina style) symbolizing friendship and the special efforts often made at Christmas time to get in touch with old friends or to offer friendship to someone who might appreciate it.
— a newspaper cutting of a starving mother holding her dying child in her arms —a “madonna and child” picture with a difference, reminding us that Christ identified himself with the suffering and needy people of our world.
— A Christmas Bowl Appeal envelope.
— a lavender bag, made by a woman who had no money to buy Christmas presents to give her friends, but always made gifts for them — a reminder that the true value of a gift does not depend on its monetary value.
— a star, reminding us of the stories of shepherds in the fields, and wise men travelling from afar.
There have been many other symbols, too and usually somebody brought figures for a nativity scene to place at the base of the tree.
Somehow we have felt no need for tinsel or artificial snow! Our tree has had a beauty of its own as it expressed the meaning we had found in Christmas.