artist: Edythe Kegrize
materials: glass with gold etching
This ornament is what I like to imagine the flames looked like over the disciples' heads on Pentecost. A flame that was full of life and personality, bringing hope and courage. It was not a dead thing that consumed until the material is destroyed, but something that inspired and breathed light and life into those near to it, like Moses' bush that burned but was not consumed. If you look closely, you can see the wings are decorated in the form of tiny flames, swooping outward, full of energy and purpose.
I photographed it here on this paper with 2 smaller birds because it made me wonder. What was the rest of creation thinking and experiencing at the descent of the Holy Spirit? Was it a shock? Or was it like holding your breath for a long time, waiting, waiting for the moment to arrive, watching the skies? And then - it is seen! It's time to move!
Like Mom, Like Daughter
Tammy Haddix and Becky Hottel
Each year. Hallmark produces a mother/Daughter ornament, conveying the loving bond between mother and child. This year is no exception. Not only does the ornament show that there are inherent similarities between mom and daughter, it also conveys a sense of playfulness. These two enjoy each other's company. They go out to play in the snow together. Snow is also a symbol of coldness and isolation, so this ornament also shows a mother's natural instinct to protect her daughter from being alone and "getting the cold shoulder" from the world at large, from emotional freezing which can be every bit as painful as physical frostbite.
Even though there are similarities between the two gloves, aka between mom and daughter, yet each glove remains individual and unique. Ultimately, that's every mother's dream- that her daughter remains true to her roots, but discovers her own unique beauty to warm up the world.
Santa's Grandfather Clock
What an iconic symbol, the Grandfather Clock! Just about everyone has a memory of hearing the deep dong-dong of a Grandfather clock in someone's house, whether that's an aunts or a grandparents. It is the symbol, par excellance, of the movement of time. There is a feeling of the continuity, but also the relentlessness, of the forward progression of the march of time. Another way of understanding the Grandfather Clock is by looking at the Liturgical Calendar. Just like the face of the clock, the Liturgical Calendar is also cyclical, repeating over and over the pattern of time. It reminds us that we are constantly moving through time, and also repeating and returning to the same points in time. The last thing this ornament says is that time, just like the Grandfather Clock, is a creation. It's hard for us to really imagine what that means, but time, like all of creation, will one day be transformed. So, "we are invited to participate in the sanctification of Time, by forming patterns of prayer throughout the day, week and year," says Dr. R. Jared Staudt in the September 2015 issue of The Catechetical Review. It's weired to think that even Time is in need of purification, but that's the case, just as every other created thing. One day, the Grandfather Clock will stop ticking. One day, the Liturgical Calendar will be no more. So let us make good use of the time we have, before that day comes. As the Psalms say "LORD, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. .... Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Star of David
To me, this ornament represents the completion of the covenants. In the Old Testament. God worked with his people over many generations and many thousands of years, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah by giving them covenants. Yes, it is true that there were many covenants because the people kept breaking them, but that's not anything new still today!
This symbol, the Star of David, represents God's dominion over everything. Each of the tips of the star point to a different area - north, south, east, west, up and down - all of the physical world. Yet the snowflake in the middle of this star takes that understanding one step further - into inner space. It represents the coming of the New, Final, and Eternal Covenant with Jesus Christ.
Remember that the big covenant, so to speak, for the Jewish people was the Mosaic Covenant, where Moses is given the Law. The Old Testament speaks eloquently of The Law, comparing it to honey, saying that the one who keeps The Law is blessed. The Mosaic Law gave the Israelites the way to keep God's commands and live in relationship with him. But, God's commandments were - literally- written in stone. The coming of Jesus changes that. "The heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26 The Law, once written on tablets of stone, is now incarnate; walking, talking, eating, and teaching among us. But, it doesn't stop there.
At the Last Supper, Jesus institutes the Eucharist, replacing the Passover meal with his own body, blood, soul and divinity. The Scripture quote above from Ezekiel is extended to all those who follow Jesus, and consume the Eucharist. The Law - no longer hard and inert, but living food - now enters into our own inner spaces, into our own hearts, seeking the same transformation in us that took place at the Last Supper, seeking to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, making us into other Christs.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Edythe Kegrize and Robert Hurlburt
This is such a creative ornament. Santa actually opens up to reveal the tale of "The Night Before Christmas," by Clement Moore. Two things jump out at me. First, the rather obvious conclusion that you don't know what the book says until you open it and read it. I'm really referring to Scripture here. I routinely run into people who are sure they know how God is portrayed in the Old Testament and what Jesus says in the New Testament. And even without reading either! Okay, so that's a little tongue-in-cheek but you get the meaning. How do you know what Jesus said if you haven't read the Gospels? So this ornament reminds us, first of all, to open the Bible and read it. And ditto for the teachings of the Catholic Church, too. The second thing this ornament reminds me of is that the Word is both Scripture and a person. Here, the ornament is a Santa and the"The Night Before Christmas" story. They are both the same thing, and can't be separated from each other. Likewise for Holy Scripture and Jesus. In the September 2015 issue of The Catechetical Review, Gayle Somers puts it succinctly when she writes "All Scripture is about Jesus and actually is Jesus. He is present in the Scriptures as he is in the Eucharist; that is why both the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist are incensed during the liturgy."