Monday, December 10, 2007

Fourth Christmas Tradition


Here is my last family tradition, unless I think of another one. This is our Jesse Tree.

We got our Jesse Tree in Mississippi years ago. Our whole church participated. Each family bought a small artificial tree. Each family was given a little booklet (see it on the right). The booklet gives a scripture verse and lesson for each day of Advent, and a picture that goes along with it. The days follow the story of creation, fall, and redemption through the Bible, and follow the promise of the Messiah to its fulfillment.

Each family in the church was assigned a day of Advent, and was required to make a set of ornaments (all identical) reflecting the picture corresponding to that day. Our day was Joseph's coat of many colors, and I made about 25 little paper coats. Someone made 25 little rams (Abraham's offering). Another made 25 Noah's arks, 25 little temples, 25 mangers, or 25 Jacob's ladders. Then we came to the church and divied up the ornaments, so that each of the families had a complete set of Advent ornaments for their Jesse Tree.

Each day of Advent, one of the children places the appropriate ornament on the tree, and we remember its place in God's plan of salvation, as revealed in the Bible. It is a wonderful way to "prepare the way of the Lord" again, in our hearts, as we approach his birth anew each year.

An unexpected blessing of this tree is that, each year, I remember the various families who made those ornaments. Mike and Clarissa made all the ones from styrofoam. Vickie made the angel. Patty made the ark. Each family has a history, a memory of trials and victories, a testimony of God's fulfilling of his promises in each life. We're far from Mississippi now, but the Jesse Tree is a yearly reminder of our loved ones there.

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