SMYRNA, GA – Churches across America and around the world decorate their facilities for Christmas. Some decorations are modest, and others are extravagant, but all are beautiful, because of the intent of those who decorate and the meaning of the decorations.
Did you know that even mistletoe has been given a spiritual significance. For many years young men thought that hanging mistletoe at the top of the door frame gave them permission to kiss the next girl that came into the room. In fact, tradition (I don’t know whose tradition) specifies that a young lady caught under the mistletoe could not refuse to give a kiss. This custom was also supposed to increase her chances of marriage.
Now, one source reports that mistletoe is an aerial parasite that has no roots of its own. It lives off the tree to which it attaches itself and, without that tree, it would die. Mistletoe, therefore, symbolizes our need to abide in Christ who is our source of life and purpose. It also signifies that apart from Him we can do nothing. So, balderdash to the old tradition and kudos to the newer Christian meaning of mistletoe.
Some churches, like Heritage Baptist Church in Perry, celebrate Christmas with advent candles symbolizing the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His Son. Heritage Pastor Wayne Edwards declares, “For Christians, Christmas is more than the celebration of the birth of Jesus 2000 years ago; it is the anticipation of that day when Jesus will come again, not as a weak and vulnerable baby boy with no place to lay his head, but as King of kings and Lord of lords, having been crowned by God the Father with glory, honor, and praise.”
The advent wreath reminds us of God’s eternity, because He has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in God; and the four outer candles symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
Pastor Edwards has written a daily devotional book for Advent 2022 in which he describes the significance of each candle. He writes, “The prophecy candle (purple) is the candle of hope (Romans 15:12-1 3). The Bethlehem candle (purple) is the candle of peace (Luke 3:4-6). The shepherd candle (pink) is the candle of joy (Luke 2:7-15). The angel candle (purple) is the candle of love (John 3:16-17).
Wayne Robertson, pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, has some of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees imaginable and an almost life-size nativity scene at Morningside. He recently commented, “The decorated trees are a reminder of the beauty of the season.
“The lights remind us of the Christian’s witness in a very dark world. The stable and manger scene vividly portray the Gift above all gifts through which our sin penalty has been paid. At Christmastime we celebrate that we are never alone for God is with us.”
Crawford Avenue Baptist Church in Augusta has decorated their church this year with an emphasis on the hymns of Christmas. The platform of the church and the stained glassed windows are arrayed with greenery and candles but highlighted with hymnals and pages of carols like “Angels from the Realms of Glory” or “Silent Night, Holy Night”.
Nikki Daniel, wife of Crawford Avenue’s pastor, Bert Daniel, explained, “Our decoration at Christmas is designed to incorporate a great heritage of our faith. Many generations have sung the same songs before us. We connect with these believers through worshiping our Lord, and we know we will see them in heaven one day. So, the hymnals personalize the Christmas décor for us as Crawford Avenue Baptist Church.”
Warren Baptist Church in Augusta has a veritable forest of trees on their platform with a focus on the manger and shepherd’s staff prominently displayed. Pastor David McKinley is preaching a series of sermons in December on Psalm 23 which he refers to as The Christmas Psalm. In his first sermon on the series McKinley stated, “You can’t tell the Christmas story without telling about the shepherd and the sheep.” And of course, the Bible says, “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).
First Baptist Church Newnan, with one of the most beautiful worship centers in Georgia, decorates with trees, wreaths, and poinsettias. By Sunday, November 27th, the church was exquisitely adorned for the Christmas Keyboard Extravaganza, a musical event that featured 18 keyboardists on four grand pianos and a 54 rank Reuter Pipe Organ.
One of the most stunning features of the Christmas décor at the Newnan church was the 175 poinsettias given by church members in honor or in memory of loved ones. The church has also decorated Chrismon trees for the season. The word “Chrismon” is a combination of the words “Christ” and “monogram”. These trees are accented with symbols (a descending dove, fish, Celtic cross, Jerusalem cross, shepherds crook, chalice, shell, etc.) that tell the unfolding story of Christ in a graphic way.
KIokee Baptist Church in Appling is the oldest continuously operating Baptist church in Georgia having been founded in 1772 by Daniel Marshall and continuing to this day. The third church building for Kiokee was constructed in 1808 and still stands today. The seventh facility was constructed in 1995 and accommodates a large and thriving congregation. The 1808 building is decorated with a wreath on the front door and the current worship center is beautifully bedecked with poinsettias arranged into to tree-like structures, beautifully adorned Christmas trees and a nativity scene on the steps of the altar.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become a secular holiday today, but Christians should do everything possible to remind a lost and dying world that Jesus is real and the only hope for sinners everywhere.
Invite people to visit your church or come into your home and explain the significance and meaning of the symbols that we use to decorate for Christmas. That in itself could initiate a witnessing opportunity of inestimable worth.