The Jesse Tree
Christmas 1991, when My now 19 year old son and 14 year old daugher were three and eight months respectively, my creative juices flowed resulting in an advent calendar made from baby food jar lids (Hey, who said I wasn’t resourceful?), glitter, and old Christmas cards. Each was Velcroed to an appliquéd wall banner each day in December. (OK you home-schooling moms, Just how do you change “Velcro” to a past tense verb?) The next year my mother introduced me to the Jesse Tree, a unique advent chart using Biblical symbols and devotions to herald in the season. I was hooked. That first year I made each day’s symbol as it was needed and used the original Christmas tree banner.
This will be our 16th year doing the Jesse Tree which even traveled with us overseas during our two year missionary adventure. It is one of our most beloved Christmas traditions.
We use Let’s Make a Jesse Tree by Darcy James. (1)
She says,“The Jesse Tree Advent calendar reminds us of some of these stories that add up to the long story of God's compassion and challenge for humanity. Jesse was the father of
Beginning on December first with a banner that is plain, except for a tree stump with a small green shoot, each day there will be a Bible story to read and a symbol expressing it to attach to the banner, until on Christmas Day the manger and a golden star are placed at the top.”
Beginning December 1st and continuing through the 25th we gather each night around the table, light a candle, and sing “Light of the World” (2) (Scroll down and click on "Light of the World.)
“You are the Light of the world, O Lord,
And You make Your servants shine.
So how could there be any darkness in me
If you are the Light of the World?
You are the Light of the World.
(Additional verses are:
You are the Bread of Life, O Lord,
Broken to set us free.
So how could there be any hunger in me
If You are the Bread of Life?
You are the Bread of Life.
You’ve overcome the world, O, Lord,
And given us victory.
So why should I fear when trouble is near
If You’ve overcome the world?
You’ve overcome the world.”)
We then take turns reading that night’s story from either the Bible, or a Bible story book, depending on the reading level of the child or the length of the story. Then the symbol is placed on the tree, and we close in prayer. The entire devotion takes about ten minutes, but it helps keep us focused on the reason for the season.
(1) Published by Abingdon Press (June, 1988) ISBN#0687214394