When we lived in Florida, we participated in an awesome Sunday School class led by Gay Robinson. One Christmas season, she gave us all a handout with information about Jesse Trees. A Jesse Tree is a simple tree (often just a bare branch anchored in a pot of sand; but it can also be a fabric “tree”, or a real or artificial Christmas tree) that is decorated with one ornament each day during Advent. The ornaments represent characters and themes from the Scriptures.
The thing I love about the Jesse Tree is that it’s not just a “chocolate-a-day” Advent countdown. It’s a way to focus on the great truth of the Bible: that God loves us and that He sent His son to save us. The story of Christmas doesn’t occur out of the blue, you know. It’s not like one day God suddenly thought, “Hey, that Mary chick looks cool. I’ll send an angel her way and see what happens!” No. He had a plan all along, from before the world began, from the moment that He breathed life into Adam. The Jesse Tree makes it clear and poignant that the entire story of Scripture points toward Christ and the salvation we can only receive through him.
From the research I’ve been doing, it appears that Jesse Trees can either emphasize the lineage of Messiah from Adam to Christ; or they can emphasize Old Testament themes, events, or covenants; or they can trace Old Testament prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah.
This list is slightly modified from the one that Gay handed out. I wanted to primarily trace the members of Christ’s lineage who are mentioned in Matthew 1 (#1-14, 20-23); to fill out the list and have one ornament for each day of Advent I added the Old Testament prophets (#15-19).
|Jesse Tree||Isaiah 11:1|
|2||Apple/Snake||Adam & Eve/Fall of Man||Gen. 3:1-24|
|7||Coat of many colors||Joseph/God’s Providence||Gen. 37:1-36|
|8||Stone tablets||Moses/God’s Law||Ex. 20:1-17|
|9||Trumpet||Joshua/God’s Leadership||Joshua 1:1-11|
|10||Wall with Red Cord||Rahab/God’s Protection||Joshua 2:1-21|
|11||Wheat||Ruth & Boaz/God’s Plan||Ruth 1-4|
|12||Crimson Robe with Staff||Jesse||1 Sam 16:1-13|
|13||Harp/Slingshot||David/Shepherd for the People||1 Sam. 16:14-23|
|14||Crown||Solomon/Wisdom||1 Kings 3:3-28|
|15||Stone Altar||Elijah/Threat of false gods||1 Kings 17:1-16|
|16||Hot Coals||Isaiah/Call to Holiness||Isaiah 6:1-8|
|17||Watchtower||Habbakuk/Waiting on the Lord||Hab. 1:1-4|
|19||Temple||Haggai/Return & Rebuild||Haggai 2:1-9|
|20||People||Zechariah & Elizabeth/Joy||Luke 1:5-25|
|21||Scallop||John the Baptist/Call to Repentance||Luke 1:57-80|
|22||White Lily (or rose)||Mary/Hope for the Future||Luke 1:26-38|
|23||Carpenter’s Tools||Joseph/Trust in God||Matt. 1:18-25|
|24||Angels||Angels/Good News||Hebrews 1:1-14|
|25||Star of David (or Chi-Rho)||Jesus/Fulfillment of Messianic Promise||Luke 2:1-20|
Now that I’ve chosen the Scriptures, characters, and stories I want to include, I’m making my own ornaments. A handful are wooden shapes, painted with acrylics; the rest are felt and embroidery details. I’m not quite finished (but hey, it’s only January!) Here’s what I’ve done so far:
For more information and additional character/ornament ideas, as well as more about the history and tradition of Jesse Trees, check these resources:
Jesse Tree: Messianic Prophecies
King of Peace
And if you want to buy a complete set of Jesse Tree ornaments, or a set of patterns to cross-stitch your own ornaments, take a look at Jesse-Trees.Com