The green table is moving! I'll begin posting again after we're all set up in our new home!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Christmas Theme: Baubles and Bread

From the time Adelae was a little baby, old enough to be mobile (read, dangerous!) she and I have made all of the ornaments for our tree.  This started for sake of her safety, not to mention my heartbreak, should any of my vintage glass ornaments break.  Over the years the tree has taken on various themes that have evolved to become only a part of our larger concept for much of the baking, gifts, cards, crafts and decorating of the Christmas season. 

"Isn't the theme for Christmas, well "Christmas"?"! Yes, but determining a lens for the story and meaning of Christmas makes it easy to unite the look and message of the season in a memorable fashion.

Since I begin planning the theme for the upcoming Christmas a year in advance to take advantage of after-season sales, I've been thinking about all of this for a while!  I'm very excited to share our Christmas 2011 theme, Baubles and Bread.

Clearly, some additional explanation is needed, and I hope you'll find it as inspirational as I did when I stumbled upon this concept some time ago. 

First, the bauble, striking in it's simplicity, is no mere ball.  Early Christmas trees were often decorated with fruit such as apples and cranberries.  Over time, the fruit became manufactured, streamlined, and glass ball ornaments were popularized.  The fruit on the tree represented Eden.  Today our red baubles are just ornaments.  We've lost the understanding that the red bauble, or sparkling forbidden fruit, is a symbol for our original sin handed down from Old Adam.  Why would you want to decorate your festive tree with a symbol of your sin?  Sin is precisely what drives our Advent hope and Christmas joy - the birth of our Savior from sin, death and the devil! The symbolism of the simple red ball cannot be lost, and so red baubles will take center stage in our Christmas decorating this year. 

Look how similar the pomegranate looks compared to a standard red bauble!
Genesis doesn't tell us that the serpent enticed Eve with an "apple", all we know is that she took the  "fruit". Pomegranates are another popular temptation fruit of choice.  Both apples and pomegranates share that bright red hue, a perfect choice, albeit fabricated by our art and imaginations, as it foreshadows the blood of Christ that redeems the sin of all eternity. 

Another tradition in Christmas tree decoration is to hang cookies as ornaments.  Practically speaking, many of the old fashioned type cookies improve in flavor as they soften with age, and the tree couldn't be a prettier place to display them.  However, when I learned that the classic German Lebkuchen can be translated to mean "body bread" or "bread of life", the story of faith strung on a Christmas tree nearly brought me to tears. 

Please read these few, beautiful excerpts from the sixth chapter of John.
  27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." 28Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 30So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."  35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst....47Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
This Bread of Life, Jesus, comes to us at Christmas.  His flesh, given for us, first on the cross and today in Holy Communion is the bread that gives life eternal.  How wondrous, how beautiful, to decorate your tree, your table and hall, your gifts, your life with red baubles reminding us of our sin, and bread, in all it's forms, recalling our Redeemer, the Bread of Life, Christ Jesus. 
Perhaps this is why gingerbread cookies, a kin to Lebkuchen, are cut out in the shape of a man?  Our traditions run deeper then we know, and it is my mission to bring these meaningful connections to our cultural consciousness.

Black and White for Sin and Salvation
Baubles and bread! Our theme for this Christmas is really one of Law and Gospel, sin and salvation - truly a grand reason to celebrate!

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