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When our kids were young, we counted off the days to Christmas by hanging symbols on a “Jesse Tree: a sun for creation; a tree and Adam and Eve; a serpent; Noah’s ark … and so on. And with them, there were 23 days of readings from the Bible that took us to up to birth of Jesus, the One they all pointed toward. As the children grew and left for school, we dropped the practice. Today I miss that daily reminder that Jesus’s coming was part of God’s plan – and that his coming again is just as sure.
In lieu of the actual tree, this year I plan to do the readings with a “grown-up Jesse Tree:” a Bible reading plan for Advent that starts at Creation and follows God’s plan to its fulfillment in Christ, to help you train your eyes on Jesus’ coming.
Would you like to join me? Here’s a free download to my checklist:
May you be filled with the joy and hope of expectation as you read!
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ABOUT THE JESSE TREE
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1)
Traditionally, the “Jesse Tree” traces the lineage of Jesus, the “Son of David” who came to sit on David’s throne, starting with Jesse, David’s father. Medieval art often showed Jesse lying at the bottom of the picture, with a shoot growing from his side and ascending to Mary and then Jesus. Side branches bore pictures of various ancestors. This prophecy of Isaiah was so frequently illustrated that it came to represent all the prophets, and the prophetic foretelling of Jesus.
As an Advent custom, the Jesse Tree depicts the ancestors of Christ or a succession of biblical stories from Creation to their culmination in Jesus, showing how all of the Old Testament points to Christ.
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If you want to make a set of ornaments for yourself, Michele Quigley offers a free color pdf download of a beautiful set with instructions for making them (and while you’re at it, check out her website—she has other free downloads and sells a gorgeous Catholic liturgical wall calendar and date books, available now for 2016).