Have you heard of the Jesse Tree?
I hadn’t either. Last year was the first year that I stumbled upon it on one of the blogs that I was reading. Unfortunately it was too late last year to start the tradition, but I filed it in the back of my brain to remember for this year.
As we get closer and closer to the first of December I am eagerly anticipating our Advent celebrations. This year we are going to embark on a new journey through the Bible towards the birth of Christ.
Let me explain it a little to those of you who are not aware of what the Jesse Tree is. If you know what it is, please feel free to skip this little explanation and move on to the links and printables.
“Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus. There are many ways to get ready for Christmas. One way is through a Jesse Tree.
What is a Jesse Tree? It is a tree branch decorated with symbols representing the stories of people in Jesus’ family tree. In Isaiah 11:1 we read, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And it was from David’s lineage that Jesus came. That’s where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. Before a symbol is hung on the branch, a Bible passage or a story from a story Bible is read.”
The idea is that each day a different devotional will be read, depicting another part of the story of Jesus. It starts at the beginning of time (creation) and works through some of the major stories in the Bible, to the birth (and baptism) of Jesus.
What I love about it, is that it is a chance for the children to really learn the importance of these stories that they are already getting in church and at home. An opportunity to see how God has connected our lives, the lives of the people before us, and the lives of the Bible into the life of Jesus.
That is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the “Jesus Storybook Bible.” If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. This story Bible takes a new spin on the Bible stories by showing us exactly how everything that God did throughout history was connected to His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. I love the way the author tells the stories, points out God’s love, and makes it abundantly clear that He was in control of all instances throughout the Old Testament (and the New) leading up to the birth of Jesus. He was truly weaving everything together!
We have other children’s Bibles with better pictures, and ones that probably tell the Bible stories more precisely, but there is just something about the way God’s unexplainable love is woven through the pages of this Bible that I am in awe of.
When looking for a good way to pull all of the ideas I had found for our Jesse Tree I came across Three Men and a Jenn‘s blog. Here she had used the Jesus Storybook Bible as the basis of her devotional. It was all laid out for me, even with the page numbers and ornament ideas!
Then I found another wonderful post that also uses the Jesus Storybook Bible. A Holy Experience is an AWESOME devotional. It is made primarily for older children and adults, but includes pages to the Jesus Storybook Bible for the young ones. It is downloadable with ornaments that can be printed at home. It truly is an amazing resource.
Although I loved the devotionals that came with A Holy Experience’s Jesse Tree, and her ornaments were beautiful, they just weren’t right for me. I wanted my ornaments to be a bit different. And I wanted to follow the plan that I had found originally at Three Men and a Jenn’s blog because I liked how she laid it out. So I got to work and found images across the internet that fit the different ideas portrayed in the various stories.
Since I like you all so much, I am going to give you the opportunity to download my ornaments. Make sure that you visit Three Men and a Jenn’s blog to see exactly how they match up. I did change some of her ornament ideas (for example, I used a dove for baptism instead of a shell because we do not believe in baptizing a baby, which is what the shell is for, but the Bible does say that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove).
The final image I thought would go great at the very beginning when I introduce the idea to the kids. I was planning on introducing the concept to the children and reading the first story in the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is about God’s love story to us, on November 30th. That way the children have a glimpse into what the next month is going to hold for us, and it gives us a chance to talk about why Christmas is important.
Click on the photos to be taken to my google docs where you can download the ornaments. Each page has 6 ornaments approximately 3 inches by 3 inches. It is formatted to fit nicely on an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of card stock. Cut them out, back them with some pretty paper, laminate, and hang with a ribbon.
Have you celebrated Advent using a Jesse Tree before? I’d love to hear all about it! Stay tuned for pictures of our Jesse Tree ornaments in action later this month.
*Note: I did not intentionally take any of these items from copyrighted sources. I did my best to make sure that they were free images that were simply on the internet to be used at will. If they belong to you, please let me know so that I may give you the credit due. They are not for sell for any reason and no one has a right to sell anything that I attach to this blog.
*Update: I just found this on another blog. A download of images that match the Storybook Bible perfectly along with the passages to read each day on the back of the image! Wish that they had been available two weeks ago when I started making my own. Check it out if you haven’t printed your own yet.