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Thursday, December 5, 2013

What is a Jesse Tree?

What is a Jesse Tree?
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As mentioned earlier this week, people all over are buying, erecting and decorating Christmas trees.  But many Christians are also creating Jesse trees for Advent.  What is a Jesse tree?  Why is it so appropriate for Advent?

“Jesse” refers to the father of King David, a key figure in the human genealogy of Jesus.  For each day of Advent, people add one ornament to their Jesse tree, with a symbol that represents a key figure or event in the Old Testament.

The Jesse tree is an appropriate Advent activity because the season consists of approximately four weeks of waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The Jesse tree reminds us that God’s people had been waiting for thousands of years for the birth of the Savior.  During that time, though, they were not ignored.  God worked through the history of His people to prepare them for their Messiah.

As each ornament is added to the Jesse tree, there is a corresponding Scripture reading from the Old Testament and usually a meditation highlighting how the Old Testament event or person was a preparation or prefiguration of Christ.

The Jesse tree is a great tradition to help children and adults alike see how God has worked in the history of Israel, and recognize the continuity of the Old Testament with the New.  We can’t really understand the depth and meaning of the Old Testament without relating it to the revelation given to us through the Incarnation of Christ.

There are numerous variations of the Jesse tree.  The link below gives one example of ornaments and related Scripture.  A simple Internet search can produce other ideas and accompanying meditations.  Catholic stores or companies often have Jesse tree kits for purchase as well.