Roots of Jesse – Guest Edition

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;

  1. Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
  2. Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
  3. Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
  4. Isaac – Ornament: Ram
  5. Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
  6. Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
  7. Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
  8. The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
  9. Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
  10. Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
  11. Samuel – Ornament: Crown
  12. David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
  13. Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
  14. Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
  15. Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
  16. Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
  17. Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
  18. John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
  19. Mary – Ornament: White Lily
  20. Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
  21. Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
  22. Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
  23. Jesus – Ornament: Manager
  24. Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho

Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree  Click Here

The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press  Click Here

Amen, Alleluia!

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The All-Consuming Passions of Mankind pt.1

The Differences between Love and Hate

In this first installment we will explore man’s definition of love, and in that the two all-consuming passions that utterly take us over and blind our reason forcing us to do both heroic and barbaric things to others depending on whether we feel love or hate for them.  In reality there is a very fine line between love and hate and in our brain there is virtually no difference between them.  That I know is a shocking statement in and of itself, but never the less this strange and scary construct has been scientifically proven to be true.  But before we go there let’s begin with scripture and then apply man’s definitions we have created for these two all-consuming emotions.  Let’s examine them biblically first then move into science.

1 peter

8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” ~ 1 Peter 3:8-9

The Perfect Example of Love

The simple message carried throughout the Middle East and into Europe in the decades after the death of Christ by His disciples was a very basic one, “Love one another.” The absolute “Love” of God or “Agape Love” was the example and is today the hardest to achieve. I have to think that God would not have shown us such a perfect love if we as mortals could not attain it and in that we look to Jesus who throughout all the hateful things others did to him and others he loved never once acted out with anything in his heart other than this agape love of Gods.  So with that said we can extrapolate this purest of all love is attainable and should be our starting point in our search for the true definition of what Jesus really meant by;

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34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” ~ John 13:34

Love Defined

It has been long debated what love is, how we should love, what love looks like, how to handle heartbreak, and the strong emotion love overwhelms us with. We have undoubtedly struggled with this concept we call love and in our rational mind love makes us do things which makes no sense to our personal well-being but rather fulfills a basic need all people are born with from the start.  This struggle all people contend with in both their personal and professional lives is further complicated with our struggle to understand an equally overwhelming emotion known as hate.  Hate presents the same questions as does love and it appears as strongly in our hearts as does love. One could even argue that hate is loves evil twin who twists loves goodness into a pool of unrecognizable film of darkness.  Therefore, love is an emotion which is equal to hate, and the line which divides them is much thinner than we could have ever imagined.  It boggles the mind how love could be at the root of a hateful act, and vice-versa, how hate could ever be linked to love.  In an attempt to explore this paradox we must first start with the modern definition of love;

Love is defined as –

  1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. Sexual passion or desire.
  4. A person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
  5. (Used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
  6. love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
  7. Sexual intercourse; copulation.  ~ Found online at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love

First Form of Love

Each of the seven definitions covers a huge realm of emotions, feelings, and actions that are linked to other emotions that help to build this intense feeling of love.  An example of this is found in the first definition: a profoundly “tender”(the word “tender” is different than the word love and is uniquely described as being: weak, immature, easily moved, soft, young, delicate, not strong or hardy, and or gentle. ~ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tender ).  This word “tender” must then be viewed as nothing more than a supporting feeling of love linked in our actions for or against others while always playing a minor role in the background.

Example: I can argue in a “tender” way and thus be perceived as not being strong or weak on the argument. I can console another person “tenderly”, and thus be perceived as being soft and delicate. I can have a crush on another person and thus be perceived as being young or immature in my actions towards them, even biased when compared to others. None of which equals the emotion of love, but are qualities found in love. I could easily argue with my girlfriend or wife in a tender way so as not to hurt their feelings, I could console them softly, and act childish in my actions in private and when defending them become very bias because of my love for her. This extends to our children and other family members. We say this is love but in reality it is the expression of love in its weakest or mildest form.

Love Me Tender

So being “tender” is the first act of showing a growing emotion for another person and consequently the step to becoming vulnerable and complete exposed. It is proceeded by the second definition of love: a feeling of warm personal attachment – (here again we now are part of something bigger than ourselves and this most basic of emotions fulfills a primal need programmed into every person on earth by our creator – the need to belong. ~  http://listeningfaithfullyblog.com/2009/04/18/reflections-1-a-real-relationship-with-god-relationships-series/ )

In this first ever blog posting of Listening Faithfully I try to point out how we are hot-wired from the start by God in order that these emotions should guide us to serve our Lord emphatically.  However, the love that manipulates our choices and decisions are profoundly linked to first becoming willingly subdued to the strong over powering emotion of love. Therefore, the first sign of this would be to do something for someone else that in reality you would not have otherwise done and in this your actions are “tender”, others may perceive you as being silly or weak and even soft.  This perception can be both good and bad and carry with it a diverse volume of consequences, both unintended and intended.

Example: The irrational act of giving flowers or presents to a person you’re infatuated with without knowing their true feelings for you first – spending money you probably should have kept – defending a person even if it puts you in a weaker position with others – and my personal favorite, the games we play with ourselves when trying to justify these actions either to ourselves or others who have called us out on it.  However intense the act of being “tender” is in our own mind we are in reality sending signals out to the world like a probe in search of love – to test if this new connection will fulfill our most basic needs of belonging.

The Evolution of Love

Again, in all of this love is becoming stronger, our actions more manipulated, our ability to reason is more compromised, and this wonderful all-consuming emotion drives further into our heart and mind as it progresses into the next more powerful definition of love – that being: sexual passion or desire.  In this stage of love we as human-beings are able to express the deepest of emotions – the power to share without fear of being compromised – the need of confession is realized as is the bond between two people is thus born into it’s infancy not unlike an impenetrable bridge made of iron and concrete.  Sadly many people confuse the pleasures of this stage of love with the act of having sex which is a primal effort to pass ones genes on so as to insure the survival of one’s own lineage. In this confusion of feelings love becomes the act of having sex rather than the tenderness of giving flowers, or the soft manner we hold each other’s hand, or even the ability to argue softly with love in our voices. These pleasures are then lost as our bodies begin to crave carnal pleasure and our mind and emotions become detached from the true purposes of love. Therefore, what some would call love is in reality a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God. For no other reason is there so many divorces and children born out of wedlock.  For no other reason is there the crimes of passion we see played out nightly in the news, and the broken hearts of children who are left wondering why their parents are absent in their lives. ~ For a deeper explanation Click Here

FAMILY

On the other hand when these emotions are handled in a mature responsible way with dignity and respect do we see the miracle of God in the faces of our children, is there the foundations drilled deep that support a whole productive and balanced family unit, and in this do we see couples love and honor each other until death do they part.  But even this outcome is dependent fully on the trick of our minds and emotions that love weaves that allows us to do things we would not otherwise do with not clear benefits to ourselves but yet greatly benefits others around us. In this more complete definition offered by the bible do we find the root of love and also it evil twin – that of hate.

With that firmly rooted in your mind, I am always called back to the biblical definition of love – a definition where love is defined in a broader and more diverse way; one that goes far beyond the online dictionaries we have at our fingertips today and which I have quoted from in this posting.

1Corinthians_spread1.0

“4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

With this universal standard we can begin to understand what love really is and how powerful it can be.  We begin to fully view the greatest gift of all and how it manipulates our thinking, alters our actions, and provokes both heroic and barbaric deeds. We literally scratch the surface of this gift given to us by God and yet just start to uncover the deepest consequences it holds for all man-kind.

Amen

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