Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Jesse Tree

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 Jesse was the father of King David. David’s kingdom fell apart after the reign of his son Solomon, but the Messiah came as a shoot from the stump of David’s dynasty, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold.

Tucked into our Christmas storage boxes is a small evergreen tree, a little book of twenty-five devotions called The Advent Jesse Tree, and twenty-five little numbered boxes, each containing an ornament inside. After our Thanksgiving celebration, the Christmas box comes out, and our Jesse Tree is placed on the table so that we will be ready to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the event that changed the way God spoke to His people, that joyful day when The Word became flesh.

Beginning on December first, the stage is set to tell the gospel story. Our first ornament for the Jesse tree is a little symbol of the earth. There is a short devotional to remind us that God created this world and everything in it. The devotion ends with a prayer and the hymn, This is my Father’s world. The devotions for each night expose the plan God had from the foundation of the world to redeem us and make us His very own. The little devotional book we use has an adult reading and Bible passage on the left page. On the opposite page is a shorter, simpler version for the very young.

Year after year we sat after dinner and opened the boxes one by one to tell the complete story, from the fall of man, to the prophecies of a coming King, to the birth of our Savior. A few years ago we had all been apart with the boys in college and everyone scattered. When we were all at home together, just for fun, we opened all the Jesse tree ornaments at once and held them up like flashcards. The kids could tell the stories by the symbols without even reading the passages. One by one they could recount even the story of Ruth and Boaz, and how that fit with the story of our redemption. Deuteronomy chapter six instructs us to teach these stories of our faith to our children so that they will know them. Year after year, although it doesn’t even seem like they are listening, they are learning that our faith is something that ties us to all those marvelous Old Testament stories and we are a part of something huge. We are also God’s chosen people. Our children need to know that even in this day and age they will have wildernesses of their own to navigate. They will fight the giants, not from Gath, but fears, doubts, and insecurities. They will need the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day to lead them. They will need to use their Bibles to keep them on the right path.

Tradition is a part of celebration. With Katy so sick, we cannot keep with tradition and sit around the table to eat this year, but our Jesse Tree is still in the center of the table. The symbols are hung, although she cannot use the stairs to come and see it. I looked at the symbol for tonight, which is a cluster of grapes, and the story tonight speaks of the promised land where blessings overflow. The Way to that promised land was born in a manger. The Christmas season is so full of dazzling events. But the real celebration of Christmas includes knowing that our children know and understand the gospel story from the manger to the cross. Although they have struggles in this life, and trials come, they have a Redeemer, to Whom they have given their hearts. One day in that promised land we will see the celebration of the King of Kings as it is meant to be.

  1. Doris Harriff Says:

    Thank you for that post! What a wonderful tradition! I had never before heard of the Jesse tree, either.

    God bless you all, and hang in there! I’m praying for you all every day.

    Aunt Doris

  2. Dawn Says:

    The tradition of the Jesse Tree started for us when our sister Jackie Collmus, made all the Campbells a set of Jesse tree ornaments for Christmas when we only had the boys and they were quite young. There were six sets and twenty-five ornaments (and Jackie had four busy little ones herself!) I have followed her example and made several sets for other families for Christmas. The devotional book I use can be ordered on Amazon. It is “The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Meador Lambert, and is published by Abington Press Nashville. Thank you, Aunt Jackie!

  3. Trisha Ferris Says:

    HOw blessed Qavah is to join your family. May she grow up to love the Lord & to pass on the Faith to another generation.
    Continuing to pray,

  4. Karen Tillman Says:

    All that I can say here is a heartfelt AMEN!!
    Love and prayers
    Karen T

  5. Heather Kirkwood Says:

    Hey Katy, I saw your comment on my blog….thanks! And yes, she did make it from a kit. When you feel up to it, we’d love to have anything you’d care to contribute. I personally find doing artwork very theraputic. It gets my mind off things and helps me think better.

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