The word Advent means ‘coming’. It refers to the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah. The use of a Jesse Tree during the Advent season is a great way to ‘show and tell’ the redemption story and the ‘coming’ of the promised Savior!
What is a Jesse Tree? It is a small tree decorated with symbols portraying Jesus’ spiritual heritage. Jesse was the father of King David. The idea of the Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11:1-9, where God promises a discouraged nation that the glory they remember from David’s time will come again. They will have another king from Jesse’s family, in whose reign the whole earth will know God. We see that promise fulfilled in Jesus, and so we use a Jesse Tree and decorate it with reminders of how God prepared the world for that kingdom.
My husband and I started the tradition years ago of giving a Jesse tree ornament and the corresponding bible verse to each of our Children and Godchildren for Christmas. Each year we pick an Old Testament story and then find a symbol that represents the story. For instance a whale for the story of Jonah, an arc for the story of Noah, an apple for the fall of Adam and Eve, or a lion for the story of Daniel. We make or purchase a small ornament for each person, inscribe the Bible verse on it along with the date. They keep a notebook with their Jesse tree consisting of all the Bible verses that are hanging on their tree.
It is my hope that you can start a new Christ- centered family tradition and that you will be blessed by all you learn.
Kathy Bitzer, Parish Religious Education Program (PREP)