Editor’s note: Throughout 2017, we’re highlighting reader submissions of ways they’re observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Submit your story by sending 300 words or less, plus photos, to livinglutheran@elca.org, with “Reformation story” in the subject line.

Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jonestown, Pa., began the year-long 500th Reformation anniversary observation by adorning the Christmas tree in the sanctuary with ornaments representing the symbols that compose Luther’s seal. Luther designed the seal to represent his theology.

The first ornament hung on the tree was a black cross set in a heart that retains its natural color. Luther wrote that the black cross reminded him that it is faith in the crucified one that saves us. The black cross mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color.

The second ornament was a white rose to show that faith gives joy, comfort and peace. White is the color of the spirits and angels.

The white rose of the seal stands in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith are the beginning of heavenly, future joy that begins now but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed. The ornament hung on the tree was a blue globe.

Surrounding the field of blue in Luther’s seal is a gold ring symbolizing that blessedness in heaven has no end. Luther wrote, “Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.” The ornament adorning the tree was a large, gold ring.

Among its other anniversary commemorations, Zion’s will host a Martin Luther re-enactor to teach the congregation and answer questions about the Reformation. And in the spring an apple tree will be planted with a plaque underneath with Luther’s famous words: “If I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.”

Submitted by Christine Techky, Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jonestown, Pa.

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