We are spending a little bit of time this month Christmas shopping and getting ready for Advent, which begins Nov. 29th… I love having time before Christmas that isn’t hurried and rushed and chaotic… just time for our family to soak in the peacefulness and joy of the season.
One of our little traditions is the Jesse Tree. I use *tradition* in a pretty loose way here, because this is actually only our 2nd year:). But I do hope and plan to make this a tradition for years to come.
The Jesse Tree is a way of telling the story of Jesus’ genealogy and the history of God’s plan of salvation. It goes from creation to the birth of Jesus, hitting the high points like the fall of Adam and Eve, the flood, prophets, and the lineage from Jesse to Jesus. There is an ornament and scripture reading (or Bible story) for each day of Advent.
Because the number of days in Advent can vary a little from year to year (this year there are 26 days) there are a couple of options. You can do the same ornaments and stories every year starting with Dec. 1st and only doing 24 ornaments a year, similar to an advent calendar. Or you can have a couple of *extra* ornaments to slip in here and there, normally on the Sundays of Advent. This is what we will do.
There is no set way of doing a Jesse Tree, if you do a Google search you may find several other ornaments and ideas. It can get a little confusing the first time (or two!).
Some families print ornaments out and let their children decorate them, then hang them on a tree. Many use a bare branch in a garden pot for their Jesse tree. I decided on making a felt tree just for simplicity’s sake so we can do the same thing year after year. I created felt ornaments last year, but when M is older I may print them out, let him decorate the ornaments, and then glue felt to the back of them to hang on the tree. Here’s a picture of the felt tree we’ll use:
I’ve created a file which lists the ornaments and stories for each day. It also has some cards we use that have each day’s scripture reference on them, the special “emphasis point” to talk about, as well as a short prayer to read each evening (suitable for small children). Click on the image to go to the file and see all the elements. The last few pages have printable ornaments to color and decorate.
Last year I checked out a book about the Jesse Tree from the library, but for the life of me I can’t remember the title. I got the ideas for many of our ornaments and prayers from the book, as well as some of the other ideas.
Here’s the specifics of what we’ll do each evening of Advent…
- M will open his special Advent box: Inside the box will be a piece of candy, a sticker, a short length of yarn, the ornament of the day, and the card (for our reference):
- M will eat his piece of candy first (pretty sure of that :) )
- We’ll read the Bible story for the evening from one of our Children’s Bibles or from other religious story books we have. The scripture reference for each day is on each card if you want to read directly from the Bible for older children.
- M will place the ornament on the tree while we talk about the “emphasis point” for the evening (also on the card… things like God’s promises, what makes God sad, etc.).
- M will put the sticker on a tree cutout that we’ll use as an Advent calendar.
- We will read the short prayer written on the card.
- Finally, M will place the piece of yarn in the manger. One piece of yarn per evening to make a soft bed for baby Jesus, while doing this we’ll say something along the lines of “Come Baby Jesus, be born in our hearts”.On Christmas Eve there will be a baby Jesus to place in the manger on top of the “hay”.
If this is something you want to try with your family and you have any questions, please let me know!! Or if you already decorate a Jesse Tree as part of your tradition, I’d love to hear about it!
Have a beautiful day! :)