Christmas Wreath

Of all the decorations at Christmas, my favourite is a wreath. Maybe that’s because my mum used to wrap my plastic hula hoop with holly and ivy and it hung above the fireplace throughout the season. It was big!

We use circles as symbols of eternity with no beginning and no end. Hence, rings are given as tokens of commitment in wedding ceremonies. As I wrap my small hoop with green ivy gathered from our back lane, I celebrate these winter evergreens and meditate on God’s everlasting love, always fresh, creating and sustaining life. From and to eternity, he is love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Crown of Thorns

Christmas must be the best news ever. Jesus, who is Love himself, came down to us. Yes, to us he was born, to us he was given, took on flesh, wrapped tightly in swaddling bands and laid helpless in an animals’ feeding trough. Mary must have wondered how the promised Son of God could be born into such poverty, but how reassuring the visit from shepherds must have been, declaring the manger as the holy sign. God foreknew and was even orchestrating events.

‘And did she see there in the straw

As I twist the pieces of holly around my ring, and invariably prick my fingers till one bleeds, I remember Christ’s suffering on the Cross for me. I ponder with Mary and sing the line from Graham Kendrick’s song,

‘And did she see there in the straw
By His head a thorn
And did she smell myrrh
In the air on that starry night….?’

Jesus, born for us, to live and die for us and for all of creation, bearing the curse, taking that crown of thorns upon himself that one day death and decay would be no more.

Victor’s Crown

In Ancient Rome laurel wreaths were worn around the heads of prize winning athletes at the Games, courageous, military commanders triumphant in battle and, of course, mighty emperors. A wreath was also the honour given for saving a life in battle. Caesar Augustus was credited with saving the whole republic by settling the civil wars in Rome and had a civic crown of oak leaves hung on his doorpost. He was dubbed, ‘Saviour of the World’!

When he ordered that census 2000 years ago, little did he know there was an older, more powerful decree being played out to accomplish the will of God, that the true Saviour and King might be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

As I hang my wreath on the door, I think of Christ’s victory through death and resurrection, and resolve again that I want a symbol-rich wreath, not a coffin floral spray at my funeral! I wrap a string of little red lights to declare to a dark, dead world that the Light has overcome! Jesus has conquered sin and sickness and sorrow and death itself.

When Christ returns in glory, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess him as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Even now, this Christmas, let’s acknowledge with the hymn writer,

‘All the wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
And our hearts confess him King of Glory now!’

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