Friday, November 9, 2007

The Jesse Tree

One of my favorite traditions growing up was having a Jesse Tree each December. Every night in December we would have a family devotion about a different part of God's plan for His people leading up to the birth of Christ. The concept of the Jesse Tree is based on Isaiah 11:1, and the prophecy that the Savior would come from "the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Over the years, we made or collected different ornaments to represent the events or people we learned about each night. The tree was a great visual and daily reminder of what we're really celebrating during the Advent season.

Last year we tried to do the Jesse Tree with Hannah, with mixed success. We were a little frustrated by the scarce notes we had, and we didn't take time in advance to really plan out which passages to read with which night, or how to tie them together. One challenge we have in Family Worship is how to communicate truth without maxing out attention spans and comprehension levels. A friend recently told me that they had started using children's Bibles for parts of family worship, and that seemed like a good idea, although I wouldn't want to totally supplant the use of God's Word, because I think Scripture can work in children's hearts even if it seems to be going over their heads.

I searched online for a Jesse Tree outline that was comprehensive, included Scripture references, and emphasized how the entire Bible points to Christ. I didn't find anything of the sort. There are a variety of sites with ideas, some have Scripture, some have touchy-feely stuff, none had ideas for young children tied I decided to compile my own list.

In the posts below you will see a picture of the ornament we use, because I wanted to give you ideas for how you could use ornaments you already have, make them, or be on the lookout for them in advance. I have changed some of the days and ornaments from the list we used growing up, because I wanted to fill in some gaps. If you have other ideas for ornaments that could represent a concept or person, or if you find a great place to buy them, please leave a comment in that particular day's post. I definitely want to replace or improve on several of our ornaments, so I'm open to suggestion!

I listed Scripture references from the Old Testament, and from the New Testament where something came to mind. If you have ideas for other connections or passages, please leave a comment on that post! I'd love for this to be a more in-depth resource.

Finally, I went through the two children's Bibles we have to find sections that correspond with that day's devotion. The Beginner's Bible by Zondervan has a lot of short stories, but sometimes I find them a bit thin on the facts, and they don't really tie in together in most cases. The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm has broader sections, but what I really like about it is how each section points to Christ and traces God's redemptive plan. What I can see doing is making a point to read the children's Bible stories to my children during the day and talk about the concepts with them, so that when we have Family Worship with my husband later they will know what to expect when we read a short passage from the Bible. We'll see how it goes, we may try different things.

If you have a Jesse Tree tradition, I'd love to hear about it. If you blog about it, feel free to leave a link in the comments section of a particular day or this introduction post. I hope to update and flesh out these notes as I can, and I'd love to get your input.

December 1 - The Jesse Tree

Tree Ornament

I Samuel 16:1-13
Who Jesse was (King David's father)

Isaiah 11:1, 10
Prophecy about Christ coming from the "stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

December 2 - Creation

Sun Ornament

Genesis 1

John 1:1-5
Jesus was from the beginning with God, Jesus is light

Big Picture Bible
"The Very Good Beginning" page 15

The Beginner's Bible
"The Beginning" page 7

December 3 - Adam and Eve

Apple Ornament

Genesis 2 and 3
Sin entered the world, but God promised to send Someone to crush Satan's power

Romans 5:12-19
Sin came in to the world through Adam, but God gives us life through Christ

Big Picture Bible
"A Very Sad Day" page 37

The Beginner's Bible
"Adam and Eve" page 14
"The Sneaky Snake" page 18

December 4 - Noah

Noah's Ark Ornament

Genesis 6:9 - 9:17
God's promises and covenant

Big Picture Bible
"Life Outside the Garden" page 51

The Beginner's Bible
"Noah's Ark" page 26

December 5 - Abraham

Tent Ornament

Genesis 12:1-7, 15:1-6
God's promise to bless the earth through Abraham

Big Picture Bible
"God's Big Promise" page 67

The Beginner's Bible
"A New Home" page 39

December 6 - Isaac

Bundle of Twigs Ornament

Genesis 22:1-14
Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son points to God's sacrifice to send His only Son to be the perfect sacrifice for us

December 7 - Jacob

Ladder Ornament

Genesis 27:41 - 28:22
Jesus is our "ladder" to God

The Beginner's Bible
"Jacob's Dream" page 63

December 8 - Joseph

Coat of Many Colors Ornament

Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1-47:31
God used Joseph to save His people

Big Picture Bible
"God's People Grow" page 83

The Beginner's Bible
"Joseph's Colorful Robe" page 7
"Pharaoh's Dreams" page 78
"Joseph Saves His Family" page 86

December 9 - Moses (Passover)

Lamb Ornament

Exodus 12:1-30
The blood of a lamb on the doorposts of the Israelites' houses was the sign for God to spare His people

John 1:29
Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world

Mark 14:12-16
Celebration of the Passover becomes the celebration of the Lord's Supper

Big Picture Bible
"God's People Become Great" page 103
"God's Great Sign" page 123 (first part)

The Beginner's Bible
"Ten Plagues" page 104

December 10 - Moses (Manna)

Bread Ornament

Exodus 16
God gave His people manna to eat in the wilderness, to save them from hunger

John 6:31-59
Jesus is the Bread of Life

The Beginner's Bible
"Food From Heaven" page 116

December 11 - Moses (10 Commandments)

Ten Commandments Tablets Ornament
Exodus 20:1-36
God gave His people His law
Romans 10:4
Christ is the fulfillment of the law

Big Picture Bible
"God's Great Sign" (second part, beginning on page 132)

The Beginner's Bible
"Ten Commandments" page 120

December 12 - Ruth

Wheat Ornament

Ruth 1-4
Ruth was not born in to God's people, but she loved God and was humble and obedient. She became David's grandmother, part of the lineage of Christ.

The Beginner's Bible
"Ruth and Naomi" page 152

December 13 - Samuel

Lamp Ornament

I Samuel 3
As a little boy, Samuel heard God and believed Him

The Beginner's Bible
"A Voice in the Night" page 160

December 14 - Jesse

Shepherd's Staff Ornament

I Samuel 16:1-13
Samuel annointed Jesse's youngest son, David, because God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance

Isaiah 53:2
prophecy that Christ would not attract us by His appearance

The Beginner's Bible
"A Good Heart" page 168

December 15 - David (and Goliath)

Slingshot Ornament

I Samuel 17:1-51
David remembered God's provision in the past, trusted God, and would not stand for Goliath insulting God

Big Picture Bible
"Going In To God's Place" (second part, beginning on page 156)

The Beginner's Bible
"David and Goliath" page 173

December 16 - David (Psalmist)

Harp Ornament

Psalm 23
God teaches us how to praise Him in the Psalms
The Psalms point to the Savior

Hebrews 13:20
Jesus is our Shepherd

December 17 - Solomon

Crown Ornament
I Kings 3
God gave Solomon wisdom

I Kings 6
Solomon built the Temple

Big Picture Bible
"God's Blessings Grow" page 167

The Beginner's Bible
"The Wise King" page 194

December 18 - Elijah

Altar Ornament

I Kings 18: 16-46
Israel was worshiping false gods
God showed His people that He was the true God

Big Picture Bible
"Another Very Sad Day" page 187

The Beginner's Bible
"Fire From Heaven" page 209

December 19 - Prophecy

Key Ornament

Isaiah 9:1-7
God sent prophets to tell Israel of the promised Redeemer

Big Picture Bible
"God's Promise Remains" page 211

December 20 - Daniel

Lion Ornament

Daniel 6
Trusting in the Lord
God's protection for His people

The Beginner's Bible
"Daniel and the Lions" page 251

December 21 - Jonah

Fish Ornament

Jonah 1-4
Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights
God's desire for the people of Ninevah to repent

The Beginner's Bible
"Noah and the Big Fish" page 257

December 22 - Joseph

Saw, Hammer, or Toolbox Ornament

Matthew 1: 18-25
Joseph was a carpenter who listened to the angel of the Lord and was obedient in faith

December 23 - Mary

Silhouette of Mary Ornament

Luke 1:26-38 and 46-55
Mary's faith and obedience, and praise for God's plan

The Beginner's Bible
"An Angel Visits Mary" page 266

December 24 - Travel To Bethlehem

A Scroll Ornament (for taking the census)
A Suitcase Ornament

Luke 2:1-5

Big Picture Bible
"Many Silent Years" page 229

December 25 - Birth of Christ

Manger Scene Ornament

Luke 2:1-20

Big Picture Bible
"God's Promised One Is Born" page 243
"God's Promised One Is Announced" page 259

The Beginner's Bible
"Baby Jesus Is Born" page 271
"Shepherds Visit" page 277