An Older Symbol of Advent
What is the Jesse Tree? ~ by Winter
December 23, 2017 – Third Saturday of Advent
11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 (NRSVACE)
Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.
When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.
Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.
As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with, “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”
When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.
Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;
- Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
- Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
- Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
- Isaac – Ornament: Ram
- Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
- Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
- Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
- The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
- Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
- Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
- Samuel – Ornament: Crown
- David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
- Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
- Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
- Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
- Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
- Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
- John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
- Mary – Ornament: White Lily
- Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
- Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
- Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
- Jesus – Ornament: Manager
- Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho
Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree Click Here
The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press Click Here
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