Advent 2021: Friday, December 17

December 17, 2021

The Jesse Tree

When I worked in Parochial schools during my teaching career, every Advent we had a Jesse Tree on display in a very prominent place for all to see. The Jesse tree was just a branch from a tree. The whole school gathered each day around the tree to hear a Bible story about someone on Jesus’ family tree. We also hung an ornament symbolizing the story on the Jesse tree.

This tradition comes from Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesus is descended from the line of King David, Israel’s greatest king. Jesse was David’s father. And Jesus is the branch that God promised would sprout from the family tree of Jesse.

Here are some of the Bible stories that we read surrounding the Jesse Tree.

  • Creation of Humans, Genesis 1:26-31, symbol Adam & Eve & globe
  • The Fall, Genesis 3, symbol snake and apple
  • Noah’s Ark, Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-8:3; 9:8-13, symbol Noah’s ark
  • The Promised Land, Genesis 12:1-7, symbol Tent and camel
  • God’s Promise to Abraham, Genesis 15:1-6, starry sky
  • Joseph, Genesis 37:1-36, symbol Joseph’s coat of many colors
  • The 10 Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:1-22, tablets
  • Rahab, Joshua 2:1-21, red rope
  • Ruth and Boaz, Ruth 2:1-4:12, grain
  • God Chooses David to be King, 1 Samuel 16:1-15, shepherd’s crook
  • Elijah & God’s Triumph over Baal, 1 Kings 18:17-24, 36-39, fire & altar
  • Esther Saves Her People, Esther 4, scepter (staff or baton of a king)
  • Isaiah’s Prophecy of a Savior, Isaiah 9:2-7, sun
  • Prophecy of Savior Born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:1-5, city of Bethlehem
  • Elizabeth and Zechariah, Luke 1:5-25, praying hands
  • John the Baptist, Matthew 3:1-6, baptism shell, water
  • God Chooses Mary, Luke 1:26-38, Mary
  • Angel Appears to Joseph, Matthew 1:18-25, Angel of the Lord
  • Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem, Luke 2:1-5, sandals
  • Jesus is Born, Luke 2:6-21, Baby in the Manger

None of these readings are long, but hopefully all will learn something from them. You don’t have to do them all. The children were so excited each day to see what the new story was. I had my whole school to share them with, but they are also great to share with the family and friends.  

Donna Tyburski, elder