Many families mark the days of advent with a traditional advent calendar, opening a tiny door for each day leading up to Christmas. Our family advent tradition, the Jesse Tree focuses on tracing the storyline of God’s family from Creation to Cross. We all have a family tree–branches filled with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The Jesse Tree is a means by which we remember God’s family line and heritage as well as our place in it. As Christian parents, we remember our adoption into God’s family by his grace. As we teach our children we pray that God will include them in this family by giving them living faith.
What is a Jesse Tree? In our home, it is a tiny 1.5 foot discount store Christmas tree (pictures to come in future posts). On it, we hang a laminated paper ornament for each day of Advent. Each ornament on the tree represents the story of a person in Jesus’ family tree. In Isaiah 11:1 we read, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And it was from David’s lineage that Jesus came. That’s where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. Before a symbol is hung on the tree, a Bible passage or a story from a story Bible is read. This is the story of God’s family, the story of our family. As we read his Word, we remember that Jesus came for his family, Jesus comes to us, and he will come again. Come Lord Jesus.
In putting together this project, we’ve found the following resources to be very helpful. At the Reformed Church in America website, you’ll find symbols and patterns for the Jesse Tree (PDF), suggestions on how to make a Jesse Tree and ornaments (if you are extra crafty), and family devotions based on the Jesse Tree. Another helpful resource is the book The Glorious Coming: A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp.