Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A More Meaningful Christmas: The Jesse Tree and Advent Calendars

What exactly is a Jesse tree, you may be asking?

A Jesse tree is a tree that is decorated with special symbols that tell the salvation story of Christ. Starting in the Old Testament, the ornaments and devotionals used with the Jesse Tree, trace the genealogy of Christ, starting with creation, and eventually ending with the coming of the Messiah.

It is so called because of Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." This branch being Christ.

Each day during Advent, your family will add an ornament to the tree you are using. Last year we used a small artificial evergreen tree. This year we are using a large limb we found out in the woods. The ornaments represent a prophetic foretelling of the coming Christ, found all throughout the Old Testament of the Bible.

Our family also uses a devotional to go along with each ornament. These devotions expound upon the ornament, what its symbol represents, and includes a Scripture reading that pertains to the symbol for that day.

So basically, here is how the practice looks in our home:

Each evening we sit down together in the living room. I keep the handmade ornaments in a little basket beside the Jesse tree.

The kids take turns retrieving that day's ornament from the basket. Brad then reads the devotional passage for that day's ornament. Then we discuss the symbol and its meaning for a short while with the kids to make sure they understand it. And then, at last, the child hangs the ornament on the tree.

Simple as that. Could take as short as five minutes or as long as 30 minutes depending on how detailed you want to get with the devotional aspect.

And you don't have to have deep Biblical knowledge to be able to use the Jesse Tree. If you're not familiar with all of the prophetic foretellings of Christ, look at this as a great way to learn right along with your child. You'll be blessed by what you learn, for sure!

Want to make your own? Go here for detailed instructions on how to make your own Jesse tree ornaments. This is the website I used to make our ornaments. It's a great site because they offer patterns for the ornaments and they also offer basic devotionals to go with each day.

The ornaments are simple and easy to make. You basically just have to print, color, and finish them off however you like. I got a little fancy mounting them on cardstock and burlap, but they can be as simple as you like. You could even have your kids color them.

Last year, we used the devotionals that were provided on the link above. This year I've decided to purchase this hardcover book to be used each year as well as this Advent storybook...

Along with the Jesse tree, we also use an Advent calendar. There are various forms and shapes of Advent calendars. We've used several over the years. We also used an Advent wreath one year.

Last year, I purchased a handmade Advent calendar through Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. Her son Caleb made this by hand, and, boy can I attest to the beauty and uniqueness of it. As a plus, it can also be used during Lent to mark down the days until the resurrection.

You can go here for more information on the Voskamp-created advent calendar.

Here is a link for information on a simple Advent wreath. (Note: I chose this website for the specific information it provided on the Advent wreath. I do not necessarily endorse the particular beliefs on any other topics addressed on this website. The same goes for the website I linked to for the Jesse Tree ornaments.)

And here is a link for another Advent calendar that we have and use every year as well.
Kurt Adler Wooden Nativity Advent Calendar with 24 Magnetic Figures. It's a very cute advent calendar. Hiding behind each door is a character that your child adds to the nativity scene each day of December, ending with the Christ child on Christmas Day.

And perhaps you'd like your own Advent devotional. May I suggest these two for some meatier, more substantial Advent reading?

I pray that your Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow would be most blessed as you count God's blessings He's given to you!

1 comment:

Amy said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I was looking for something to do for Advent and we are going to do the Jesse tree.

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving.