As I noted when I wrote last summer about Christ-focused Advent traditions, the Jesse Tree is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
A Jesse Tree helps families reflect on the people, prophesies, and events that preceded Christ’s birth. There is one Jesse Tree reading for each day of Advent. These readings are from the Bible and each is accompanied by an ornament that symbolizes the occurrence or theme presented in the reading (e.g., the first sin is symbolized by a tree with fruit, the Passover is symbolized by a lamb, the exile is symbolized by tears, the birth of Christ is symbolized by a manger). These ornaments are used to decorate a “Jesse Tree” (the name is taken from Isaiah 11:1).
Several friends and family members have asked me how I made my Jesse Tree ornaments. I made the ornaments about 10 years ago, so I can’t demonstrate exactly how I made them. What I can do, though, is share images of the ornaments with you and describe the general process I used to make them. I’ve placed their images, along with the corresponding Scripture passages, in the following tables. (Click on the image of the reading guide to view and download a printer-friendly version of it.)
About the readings: Per the church calendar, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, so the actual dates and duration of Advent vary from one year to the next. For this reason, I’ve placed the readings in order, but have not assigned them to specific dates. You can make whatever adjustments are needed (such as excluding readings or reading more than one on some days) in order to make the readings fit in the present year. You can also simply begin the readings on November 27th of each year so you conclude them on Christmas.
About the ornaments: All of the ornaments are made of foam craft sheets. The ones with sticky backs are particularly useful because some of the ornaments have more than one layer. I found simple clip art images for most of the symbols and printed these. I cut the clip art images out of the paper, traced them onto the foam, and then cut them out of the foam. I cut out the remaining ornaments freehand. None of the ornaments are going to win awards for their beauty or intricacy, but they effectively symbolize their respective events or themes and they’ve been durable.
If your family participates in the Jesse Tree tradition, then I hope you have a wonderful time meditating on Scripture together and that your faith is strengthened. If you’ve not participated in this tradition, then I hope you will consider doing so. It’s such an encouraging activity to share with one another!
Does your family have a Jesse Tree? If so, did you make your own ornaments or did you purchase them? What other Advent traditions are you taking part in this Christmas season?
Shared at the following: