I think the first time I heard about something called a Jesse tree was a couple of years ago…but then I forgot about it. This year I was looking around online for Christmas ideas and I found some ideas for making your own Jesse tree for a Christmas advent countdown. When I found Ann Voskamp’s blog, I knew that this was the one I wanted to try for Jesse tree this year…you can find a page of free printable ideas here. The second item on the list is the one for the Jesse Tree printable ornaments. Included there you can also find a printable daily reading for each day in December, so I printed it all out. Each reading corresponds with one ornament. Here’s the folder I put the printed pages into…(I didn’t print them double-sided, so there are lots….)When I was printing everything out, I messed up a few times, so I had some extra pages that I cut up to “decorate” the folder with. The ornaments can be printed out in color or black and white….and they are sized like the ones shown above. I was noticing a few glitches on the colored ornaments, so decided to go with the outlines, and to print them on brown kraft cardstock. I shrunk them down quite a bit, too to make much smaller ornaments. I cut around each ornament, not the outside box, and then stuck them with pop up adhesive to punched-out shapes of cardstock.Then, for a primitive, homemade, country krafty kind of look, I tied them with rough twine. On some of the ornaments I punched holes around the edge and got the kids to sew them with red thread, to make it a little more interactive. It would have been nice of me to organize the whole thing as a craft for everyone to do…make all the ormanments together…but I knew that that would involve many hours, messes and half finished ornaments….so I did it myself, like the Little Red Hen did. Except for the red thread…A Jesse tree can be any type or representation of a tree. We used a small white tree to hang these ornanents on (because I love white sparkly Christmas trees!), along with some of the cinnamon hearts that we made the other day.Later, I found a wooden word that I thought was appropriate in many ways for our little tree….Now, you might still be asking, what exactly is a Jesse tree, since I know I haven’t explained it at all….
I was going to put a bunch of quotes from wikipedia on here to explain it to you, but my computer malfunctioned yesterday and erased all the quotes I had picked out, so maybe that was a sign that I should just put it into my own words and make it sound more simple than the quotes did! 😉
The original idea of the Tree of Jesse started in the 12th century (from what I understood) and it was a way of visually showing the ancestors of Jesus Christ. Like it was the first family tree idea. Like a visual aid, you know? There are several verses in the Bible that mention the idea of a tree, like Isaiah 11:1 ” A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” It is all connected to Matthew 1:1 which starts out: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham..” So a tree of Jesse was a symbol to communicate the ancestral line of Jesus in a visual way….showing the different people in his family tree, starting out with Jesse, the father of King David. In the olden days (like Medieval times and such) this tree was represented in stained glass windows in cathedrals, on tapestries and embroideries and in stone and wood. An excellent teaching aid for everyone.
Modern day Christians have taken some of this idea and have joined it with an Advent countdown, and generally use it as a way of teaching children about Jesus and people who were in his family tree. Ornaments are made to represent each person (though nowadays they don’t necessarily include everyone in the family line), such as a ram for Isaac, an ark for Noah, etc. The ones we are using also show a rope to represent Rahab (the shady lady who hid the spies) a camel and tent for Abram, and a colorful coat for Joseph of course! (‘cept ours isn’t very colorful, so I added clothespins!)After we read a scripture about the person of the day, there are a couple of paragraphs by Ann Voskamp to help show us how what we just read has a place on that tree, the tree which shows God’s story from the beginning in Eden to the star over Bethlehem, from Adam to Jesus Christ. So as we are counting down Advent, which means “coming” we are re-living and thinking about Jesus’ coming to earth in a human form and what that meant to the whole world and what it means to each of us personally.Maybe I’m making it seem a lot more organized and peaceful than it is at our house sometimes. This is the idea of the Jesse Tree. Does an ornament get put on the tree every night at our house? No, sometimes it will be 3 at a time, to make up for those crazy December evenings of kids’ concerts and stuff. Are the kids always sitting around gazing at us with shining eyes as we read each day’s verses and readings, hanging on our every word? No, not really, but even if they are busy putting together their countdown puzzles or coloring or whatever, I still have the hope that they are listening. My favorite part of our evening comes after all this: the ornaments on the Jesse tree, the candles lit, the puzzles done, the stories read, when we each take a turn to pray together and I can hear what is in each of our hearts.My notes about a Jesse tree: there are many different resources online, so that if you want to do this idea, you can tailor it to your own family’s needs. There are versions available for younger children. This one in particular wouldn’t work so well for younger kids, the wording is fairly poetical and might be lost on them. There are some places where you find a craft for each ornament that you make with the kids. I was happy to start out with this one which had the printable ornaments ready to use. I guess you have to decide how much time and organization you want to put into this project. This Jesse tree devotional from Ann Voskamp (see link at the top of the page) seemed like not too much work for me and I decided to go for it this year, to see how it works and what we can learn from doing it together. Maybe next year we’ll do a different version, or invent our own version. So I guess you’ll really have to ask the kids themselves to find out just how well it worked for us!! 🙂