Skip to comments.The Jesse Tree
Posted on 12/08/2013 2:19:29 PM PST by Salvation
The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus' birth. The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David. We adorn a Jesse Tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse Tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.
Sunday: The Jesse Tree
Ornament: The Tree
The Jesse Tree was created to help people link the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading up to Jesus birth. The tradition of decorating Christmas trees actually predates the arrival of Christianity in western Europe and was adopted by the early Church. In order to associate the custom more clearly with Christianity, people made Jesse Trees—Christmas trees with decorations related to the events of Jesus' birth and the prophecies about him in the Old Testament. Many parishes and families make Jesse Trees during Advent to remind them of these events as they prepare for Christmas.
Monday: Adam and Eve
Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
Adam and Eve and the First Sin
Genesis 3 tells how Adam and Eve's intimacy with God and with each other is disrupted. The serpent enters the scene. The serpent represents anything that can separate a person from God. The woman, with the man as her silent partner, speaks to the serpent. They examine the possibility of disobeying God. Will Adam and Eve accept God's moral order and trust in his love?
Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
Noah and the Flood
The story of Noah is told to illustrate how deeply the human family has fallen into sinfulness. Sin is now so universal that a troubled God decides to complete the work of destruction that the human family has begun (Genesis 6:13). However, God sees that Noah is a good man and decides that humanity will survive through Noah's family. God tells Noah to build an ark, which God will use to save Noah's family and members of the animal kingdom. God is pained by and disappointed in humankind, but in his mercy he will save the human family through Noah.
Noah and the Flood — Genesis 6-9
Ornament: Field of Stars
Abraham and the Covenant
Abraham stands before God, facing the future. God had promised that Abraham would be the father of many descendants, but his wife, Sarah, seems unable to have children. So Abraham believes he will die childless and that his steward, Eliezer, will be his heir. God assures Abraham that this will not happen, promising Abraham that he will have a son with Sarah. More than that, the descendants of Abraham will be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Abraham and Offering of Isaac
Then, unexpectedly, God sends an angel with the message that Abraham must sacrifice his son Isaac. As bitter as the message is, and as hopeless as it makes Abraham feel, he obeys without hesitation. He gathers his servants and Isaac with wood for the sacrifice and sets out to the appointed place. The last part of the way he goes alone with Isaac, who is made to carry the wood for his own sacrifice. On the way, Isaac asks his father what animal will be sacrificed. Abraham answers that God will provide.
Abraham and Isaac — Genesis 22
While on his journey, Jacob arrives at a certain place and rests there, using a stone for a pillow. In a dream, he receives a divine revelation. He sees a ladder, or perhaps a ramp, going up from earth to heaven. The shape of Jacob's vision may have been inspired by the shape of the ziggurats of Babylon, which had ramps going up their sides to the place where the deity was said to dwell. On the ramp in Jacob's dream are angels, roaming up and down, patrolling the earth and reporting back to God. In his vision, Jacob meets God. God confirms the covenant made to Abraham and to Isaac that their ancestors will be as plentiful as the dust on the ground and will spread from east to west. Jacob will also receive God's protection wherever he goes.
Ornament: Sack of Grain or Coat of Many Colors
Joseph and God's Providence
Pharaoh has Joseph brought before him. Joseph hears the dreams and correctly interprets their meaning. The seven fat cows and stalks of grain are seven years in which harvests will be abundant and the cows will be fat. The next seven years will be a period of famine. After interpreting the dreams, Joseph advises that Pharaoh appoint someone to oversee the harvesting and ensure that enough grain is saved in the first seven years to help Egypt survive the seven years of famine. Pharaoh agrees and appoints Joseph vizier, second in authority only to Pharaoh himself, to carry out the plan. Joseph marries an Egyptian woman and has two sons. The first he names Manasseh (“forgotten”), to show that his previous suffering has been forgotten. The second is Ephraim (“God has made me fruitful”).
Ornament: Burning Bush
God Calls Moses
God answers Moses, “I am who I am” (Yahweh). Other meanings of God's answer can be “I come to be all that exists” and “I cause to be all that happens.” God seems to be saying that God will come in his own time and will not be controlled by Moses. God will be who he will be. He came to save the people because it is his choice. “And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, “The Lord”; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy'” (Exodus 33:19).
Advent and Jesse Tree Ping!
My daughter has been doing this. She likes most of them.
Monday: The Israelites
Passover and Exodus
Moses gathers the people. He orders that a lamb be sacrificed and the blood of the lamb be put on the doorframes of the houses. This will be a sign to God to “pass over” the houses of the Hebrews. That night the Hebrews eat roasted lamb and unleavened bread, preparing for the journey. Egyptian houses are filled with mourning, “for there was not a house without someone dead” (Exodus 12:30). Pharaoh, finally convinced that he cannot defeat God, lets the people go.
Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
God Gives the People the Law
When Moses and Aaron go up on Mount Sinai, God first reminds them of what he has done for them: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). He then tells them what they need to do in order to live in relationship with God and one another. We call these instructions the Ten Commandments.
I just did this with my CCD class. I have the kids identify the OT character in the picture and the one who does gets to color it. Kind of a quiz and fun put together.
Great activity and history in the same lesson!
Ornament: Ram's Horn Trumpet
Joshua and the Fall of Jericho
Joshua led the Hebrew people from success to success in conquering the land of Canaan. The biblical writer attributes this to his obedience and faithfulness to God. The Canaanite people were defeated, their cities were destroyed, and the spoils of war were offered to God. Like Moses, Joshua was successful until his death, at the age of 110, the same age of Joseph at his death.
Gideon's Unlikely Victory
Gideon, a farmer, is threshing his wheat in a winepress so that he can hide it from the Midianites. When God tells him that he will lead the Hebrew people against their enemies, Gideon ridicules the idea. He tells God that God abandoned the people and does not seem prepared to keep his promises. God is not put off; he gives the task to Gideon and promises that he will be with him. Gideon does not think much of God's choice, as his tribe is among the smallest. God, of course, realizes this. God wants to emphasize that when victory comes, it comes from God. The Hebrew people will never win if they depend on themselves.
Gideon's Small Army — Judges 6-8
Samuel and the Beginning of the Kingdom
Saul is a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of the tribes. He is described as handsome and tall, a man of substance. His father, a wealthy man, loses a number of donkeys. Saul goes in search of them but cannot find them. Told of a holy man in a nearby town, Saul goes to see him to ask if he can help Saul find the donkeys. Samuel is in the shrine of the town, conducting the sacrifices. When Samuel sees Saul, he realizes that Saul is the man God has told him about in a dream. God told Samuel that Saul is the man who will help free the people from the Philistines.
Ornament: Shepherd's Crook or Harp
David, a Shepherd to the People
David was a great poet and a person of deep, yet flawed, spirituality. He is credited with a heartfelt song of faith in God for his continued protection (2 Samuel 22). In this song, David describes God as a rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn, stronghold, and refuge. God's actions in David's life are like the mighty forces of nature aiding him: breakers surge and floods overwhelm; the earth sways and shakes, trembles and quakes. David's enemies flee and are destroyed, ground into the dust and trampled. God's commitment to David will not end, though David is unfaithful in many ways. God's covenant love is steadfast and enduring.
The Young David — 1 Samuel 16-17
David and Jonathan — 1 Samuel 18
Saul and David — 1 Samuel 24; 28
David the King — 2 Samuel 5-6
David, Bathsheba, and Nathan — 2 Samuel 11-12
David's Later Years — 2 Samuel 19-24
From the website.
Weve included people and ornaments for each day during a long Advent season of 28 days. When the season is shorter, you may wish to use some of the stories from the fourth week during this week.
Ornament: Stone Altar
Elijah Fights the False Gods
God now calls Elijah to confront Ahab and pagan gods. He is going into enemy territory: Jezebel is killing off the prophets of Israel. In spite of the danger, Elijah is not put off. When he meets with the king, Ahab calls Elijah the “troubler of Israel.” Elijah responds by challenging the priests of Baal and Asherah to a contest with the God of Israel.
Ornament: An Empty Tent
Ahaz was not faithful to God, engaging in such contemptible practices as sacrificing one of his sons in the Canaanite way (2 Kings 16:1-4). When Ahaz died, he was replaced by his surviving son, Hezekiah. Hezekiah tried to make up for his father's unfaithfulness.
Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
Isaiah and the Call to Holiness
In response, one of the seraphs flies to Isaiah with a live coal taken from the altar and touches his lips with it, declaring that his guilt has departed. Isaiah then hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And Isaiah replies, “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Jeremiah teaches that the people cannot pray faithfully if they continue to oppress the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows. They have to stop shedding innocent blood (some practiced human sacrifice), and they must act justly toward one another. “Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are safe!'—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:8-11).
Ornament: Stone Watchtower
Habakkuk: Patient Waiting
Acknowledging that he does not understand God's will, Habakkuk stands ready to hear what God has planned. God assures Habakkuk that no matter what seems to be happening on the surface, God's ultimate plan for the Judeans who live in faithfulness will not be delayed. “For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
The Sack of Jerusalem and the Fall of Judah — 2 Kings 24-25
Ornament: City Wall
Nehemiah Reform and Renewal
After persuading the king to let him return to Judah, Nehemiah was named governor and given permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. When he arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah rallied the people and rebuilt or restored the walls in fifty-two days. However, he realized that the people were spiritually lax and must also be rebuilt. Ezra read the Law to the people and helped them understand its demands.
Ezra and Nehemiah — Nehemiah 8-9
Saturday: John the Baptist
Ornament: Scallop Shell
John the Baptist
Jesus had immense respect for John the Baptist saying, “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). John was called by God to be a prophet and prepared himself to follow this call. Dedication to a goal means some reevaluation of priorities. John apparently wanted to be free of any obligations except getting ready to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. He wanted people to know that the time for the Messiah to come was near. This meant that their priorities in life needed to be reconsidered. When we realize that we are being called to a new life in Christ, we have to consider what sacrifices we are going to be called to make to change our lives. While we will not be called to the extremes that John the Baptist was, we also need to recognize that life has to be different if we are going to be faithful.
Ornament: White Lily
When we think of heroes in Scripture, Mary, the mother of Jesus, does not usually come to mind. But consider the risks she was taking when she said yes to becoming the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:38). She was a young girl of about sixteen years old living in a small village where every secret is known and every fault is criticized. She lived in an occupied land and could be subject to any command from the occupying army. She faced an unknown future. The experience of speaking to God's messenger must have been terrifying in itself. It is perhaps fitting that we consider Mary our greatest hero, leader, champion, and saint. Her decision made it possible for us to discover what it means to live in Jesus.