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;
4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)
With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.
Introduction of Mother Mary
26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)
Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.
Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God. Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.
Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree. How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David. God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.
26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).
The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God. In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!
33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).
Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;
35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG).
The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;
38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG).
Mary’s Love For Jesus and God
21 “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE)
Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love. She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.
Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!
Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure. The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?
Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?
In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.
24 “The father of one who is right with God will have much joy. He who has a wise son will be glad in him.” ~ Proverbs 23:24.
On this special day I wanted to highlight the, “Why” behind Fathers Day, its history, it’s meaning, the many struggles of fathers, and the hope it gives to all us. For past posts on this topic please view: Past Father’s Day Post : Click Here.
The “Why” Factor
So, why do we celebrate Father’s Day in the first place? To answer this question we must first examine the role fathers play in the lives of their children. If you are a Godly father, or a child who was raised by a Godly father, then you already know the answer to this question. However, the easy answer is that children need both parents, and thus it is only right that both parents are recognized for the roles they play in the lives of their children. But this does not address the core reasoning we celebrates our fathers. For this the deeper answer is rooted in the emotional bonds fathers also have with their offspring. Fathers bring to the table many things that are unique to the role of being a father within the family. One of the many assists fathers provide is serving as the spiritual head of the household. Children receive the “Word of God” more directly from their fathers than from their mothers. Reading the bible and explaining it is a core function of fatherhood that stretches back to Biblical times. Fathers teach their children about faith, courage, strength, fortitude, and even demonstrate bravery in problems they face which the family is keenly aware of. Good fathers make better disciplinarians as men traditionally make decisions based on logic more often than by emotion. In this fathers also teach and demonstrate love, compassion, mercy, and morality in a way mothers can’t. Fathers serve as provider, protector, nurturer, and even teach life skills of basic survival again in ways that are unique to fathers alone. As a father myself I found great joy in reading and telling bible stories, teaching morality lessons, and even explaining real-world problems I faced and how I planned to solve them in the hopes that my daughter would see and later use these same techniques and teachings in her life when she faces similar problems. Unfortunately, some men fall victim to our Family Courts who all to often make bad decisions which end up exploiting fathers and these sacred duties we are endowed with by God alone. Most often the role of provider has been twisted and undermine with forcing more men than women to pay child support often ending up in arrears that financially devastate most men and often separates men from their biological children. This perversion cuts so deep as it has been said in my hearing, “Fathers are natures bank.” God gave to all humanity the perfect model of family, and this is demonstrated in every part of nature. So for it to be said of fathers worth being only to “provide” is simply a gross and ignorant description of fatherhood as its underpinnings serves only to destroy the whole worth of men and the role God Himself designed for fathers within their families. I can only pray this is not the path we continue down as it will destroy our fabric of family’s and nation as it strikes at people’s ability to be trustworthy, moral, and loyal.
1 “I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” Proverbs 4: 11-13
Our Lord and savior gave to all men the perfect example of fatherhood. His human role model was that of Joseph who through the grace of God was able to sacrifice much for the protection of his new family and in this example we see yet another sacred dynamic of the role that belongs to fatherhood alone in the precise form God had designed. In the same way did our Godly father instruct us in the ways of wisdom and in this all men who teach the message of God to their children will there be found much wisdom in their words and actions. So to in this fashion did Jesus make straight the path of God for all humanity, again leading by example and showing there is no nobler a mission than to be the good Shepard of your flock… i.e. your family and children. I remember telling my daughter when she was about five years of age and afraid of walking down the stairs at my old apartment that if she held onto my hand she will never fall. To this day when she has clung to me she has never stumbled. This idea and example did not come naturally from me alone, but yet from the Bible and the messages and examples that are taught within its Holy pages.
The Mandate of Fatherhood
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. ~ Psalm 103:13
History has not been kind to fathers as we are the ones most often asked to sacrifice something for the benefit of all, this just being the main expectation of our society. However, in recent years the idea that fathers matter in the lives of their children is slowly becoming a reality again after many decades of fatherless homes and relentless persecution of any man who has a job and a child and is not paying child support. Again, the State Doctrine of Child Support and the system it employs is not just broken, but an abomination in the eyes of God as it is nothing more than a tool to destroy homes and punish fathers while degrading the noble roll of fatherhood altogether. There is simply no other way to categorize it than to call it what it is; that being a tool of Satan. I say this with righteous indignation and contempt for the Family Courts for they are nothing more than a pit of vipers, corrupt and shamefully depraved for their judgments are for sale and can be and often are bought making any of the so-called Family Codes a cheap meaningless money pit of lies for any father today trying to navigate it’s murky waters. The idea that any State or Government assumes the right to tell its citizens that it the State or Government knows what is in the best interest of your child is simply not true as no bureaucracy or bureaucrat cares about your person conflicts nor are they ever truly invested in the outcome. The fake authority they assert is not supported by the Laws of God. For God alone knows what is in best for you and your children and He alone grants the right to make these determinations. In having children, God mandated that both parents share equally in the raising of whom He has entrusted into our care. I cried inside when the court refused to hear this stipulation of its own legislative body who the court is sworn to follow: Family Code 3020.b. “The Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of this state to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except where the contact would not be in the best interest of the child, as provided in Section 3011.” Thus the presumption that the mother had the right to move away and that this right was some how greater to my right to be part of our daughter’s life was in all regard ignoring this family code. Because if this code was truly followed no move away order could ever be valid as both parents have equal rights that first must be protected. I write this to show preferential treatment and to illustrate how man’s law is inferior to that of God’s Law and in this way the State and it’s courts have no legal binding on matters dealing with parenting. For this is a sacred obligation given to us by God alone for no man to put asunder or interfere with. The best way to see this in by examining the following scriptures in the Bible:
Titus 2:4 – “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, “
Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Genesis 18:19 – “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
History of Father’s Day
According to Sam Price of the internet webpage, Heavy News, who wrote, “June 21, 2015 is Father’s Day in the United States. It was invented by Sonora Smart Dodd, whose single father, American Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, raised her and her five siblings. It was first celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington, two years after the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia. But while Mother’s Day was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Father’s Day didn’t wasn’t recognized until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed it.” In this we see a child, (female), who was so moved by her father’s abilities of child rearing that she promoted an idea that took over half a century to become a national holiday and in this regard proving true Proverbs 23:24, “The father of one who is right with God will have much joy.” But in another regard also proving the bios that exists against men in this country with the example of Mother’s Day taking far less of a time to become a national holiday in comparison to that of Father’s Day which took over half a century, not to mention the observance had waned in the 1920’s. Though there can not be found a day in the Bible were fathers specifically where to be celebrated there are references in the bible that make it clear of how God felt about the role fathers play within their families lives.
For example;(Genesis 17:5), God renamed Abram changing it to Abraham, then proclaiming to Abraham, “I have made you a father of many nations”, clearly indicating fatherhood as a place of honor in His eyes.
“Furthermore, we can follow this theme of fatherhood in the very person of God Himself through countless scriptures (Matthew 5:45;6:9,32;Romans 1:7;15:6;1 Corinthians 8:6). There are many instances that speak of Jesus Christ, the Son, honoring His Father and honoring the will of His Father (e.g.,John 17:1andJohn 17:5). The apostle Paul taught that to honor one’s earthly father is not only a commandment but the first commandment that, when obeyed, has a promise of things going well and living long on the earth. “Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).” ~ Got Questions
No matter the struggles we face as fathers the outcome is ultimately proven through scripture of how well we did or did not do with the raising and instruction of our children. But suffice to say that fathers of all walks of life now have a legally recognized day of national celebration that both includes ans honors their role within the family and community of in which they live. Many children live healthier, longer, more full and rich lives by having known and being active in their father’s life. It is easy to say honor your parents, but it is harder to actually openly celebrate one parent, to single them out to thank them for all they do. But do this with an open heart is more Christianly than we might think.
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Closing Reminder to Pray
Please do not stop praying for our brother Scott Spinks who is recovering from a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body while he was visiting his step-daughter who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He is feeling much better and is now awaiting to be discharged from the hospital. This is the first time I have been able to meet a person whose relative have asked me to publish a Prayer Request on Listening Faithfully Blog. To Art I just wanted to say it was and is my great pleasure to post on your step-fathers behalf. It is my sincere privilege to have been able to visit you and your family as well this opening week of April 2015 – till we meet again. I urge everyone to remember the power of collective prayer and to remember to pray for our brother in Christ – Scott Spinks. May the Lord be with him and his family throughout his recovery.