Preparing our hearts for Celebration: Advent and the Jesse Tree
Advent has come to take on a more special meaning as I’ve gotten older. It’s not about a count-down calendar til Santa day. It’s not just a little calendar fill of chocolate goodies for each day of the season like my best friend had when I was little (though that was some pretty tasty German chocolate I’d get when I was there visiting!). It’s not about how many days until the presents come, though I know it’s really hard to see past that.
For us, the focus is on the count-down til Jesus’ birthday….and the wonder of fulfilled promises brought from Noah’s time. The Jesse Tree is an observance and ritual for the Advent holiday to read the story of how God made his promises given in the beginning of time come true with the birth of the Savior. We begin our day, each day, reading the passage from the Bible, talking about each symbol and how it relates to God’s Promise fulfilled, and preparing our hearts for the Advent Season (which starts on November 28th this year!). On the back of each of the discs, before laminating the, I wrote the scripture reference and personage, so it would be easier to find each morning.
A quick history: Jesse was the Father of King David, and is generally looked at as being the first named person of the lineage of Jesus. Isaiah is quoted, “A shoot will come up from the stump of
Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. —Isaiah 11:1 The lineage of Christ through Jesse was a promise fulfilled. But the story starts much further back than Jesse, with the creation of the world and is woven through many of the stories and people of both the Old and New Testaments…and how God has fulfilled His promises through Christ. Each of the days is focused upon a person in the lineage of Christ, the Biblical promise brought, a scripture focus, and symbol in which to remember that promise.
There are dozens and dozens of ways you could make a Jesse Tree, but last year, when Jacque Larsen came out with this digital set, I had to use it. It makes the whole process quick and easy – print off the pages onto sturdy cardstock or photo paper, cut them out, and use them on a tree of your choice. We laminated the discs, then hole punched them and used a paper clip to hang them to the paper tree the boys made last year. This year, we’ re going to be using a small tree branch with small branches that mimics the “Tree” of Jesse’s family, which will be ‘planted’, and we’ll switch the paper clip for ribbon. That’ll be our first day’s activity (and I’ll update with photos at that point).
You can also make Jesse Tree ornaments from felt, drawings, ornaments from the hobby stores, clay, etc. It’s whatever your family finds important, how you want to invest your time in the preparation, or what strikes your fancy!
Here are some sources to read more on The Jesse Tree:
Advent 2010 – the devotional calendar for 2010
Jesse Tree – handmade ornaments ready to purchase
Rocks in my Dryer – More about the Jesse Tree
How does your family prepare for the Christmas season to make it special and meaningful?