Advent and The Jesse Tree

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!

img_1397What 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)

 

 

I Have Plans For You

As a recently graduated high school student, I have found that it’s not easy to maintain a relationship with God amidst the other distractions we are faced with. Club meetings, sports practices, good grades, hanging out with friends, AND maintaining a relationship with the Lord? It’s difficult, but not impossible. In sixth grade, I enrolled as a student in PREP class. After sleepless nights at slumber parties, I trudged to the car every Sunday morning, struggling to wake up. Quite honestly, my eyes didn’t wake at the thought of reading lesson book, even if it was about our coming Savior, which is something pretty eye-opening. It was hard to understand the meaning of Scripture, and I felt intimidated by the Bible. So you get my point—my teenage years consisted of a lot of wavering and confusion on my side of my relationship with Jesus.  As guilty as I feel typing this, I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this feeling—sometimes it’s human nature to push away the One that keeps us together. And that’s okay, as long as we work at it.

Freshman year, I was given the opportunity to teach a PREP class.  And I struggled to decide. But something pushed me to get out of my comfort zone (I wonder Who!). So I taught a group of third graders, fifth graders, then seventh graders. Every Sunday, we prayed, watched movies, wrote in journals, created skits, played games and read the Bible. I emphasize ‘we’ because I didn’t feel like the teacher. Most importantly, we asked questions. Some of the questions they asked were ones that I may never be able to fully answer. They remained curious and determined to know more, something that inspired me and encouraged me to wrestle with my beliefs, but not to grow too comfortable in them. From PREP class, I have learned that there are three key components in reconnecting with God—prayer, reading the Bible, and talking about your faith. And hopefully, once a college graduate, I can come back to Saint Andrew’s PREP class to do that again.

Becoming involved in a ministry may be time-consuming, or out of your comfort zone, but spreading God’s love through action is so important, and essential in building us as followers of Christ.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jer. 29:11

My name is Lauren Getgey. I’m 18 years old and will be attending the University of Dayton in the fall, hopefully to study something in the medical field or law field, Go Flyers! I was a raised as a Presbyterian but began going to Saint Andrew’s in sixth grade. In 8th grade, I received First Communion, Confirmation, and Reconciliation (big year for me, huh?!). I taught PREP as a freshman, sophomore, and senior in high school.

Lauren Getgay - PREP