The tradition of the Jesse Tree is intended to help us to use the period of Advent to explore our family tree. As the geneologies of Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 tell us, Jesus was born with a family tree. Christmas is the coming of Immanuel – God coming into the world to be with us – but Jesus arrives with a history, a pedigree, a family tree.
We have been adopted by God as his sons and daughters with Christ. And that means that Jesus’ family tree is ours too. Family gives us context; knowing about origin helps us to understand. Jesus’ family tree is full of the stories of people who messed up and got things wrong and felt unloved and unwanted and unimportant and who society treated as powerless and vulnerable. But put together, their stories lead to the birth of the Messiah because God is using them and working through them, whatever their human failings. So following the story of the Jesse Tree gives us hope that God is working in and through us too, whatever our own weaknesses.
Using the days of Advent to trace the story through the Jesse Tree helps us to be ready for the other tree of the season – the Christmas tree that signals the birth of the Messiah. But if we jump straight to the Christmas Tree, without following the roots and branches of the Jesse Tree first, we risk missing the full point of Christmas.
The Jesse Tree – and the Christmas Tree – will ultimately lead us to another tree – the tree at Calvary where Jesus gives his life for us. Marking the days of Advent by tracing the whole story again helps us to be ready and waiting; reminds us of how much we need a Messiah and of how much we owe him for all he did for us in winning our salvation.
Every day here on our website, we will be posting a part of the story. There will be a version for grown ups, with a part of the story to read from the Bible and some questions to think about and also a version for children with links to recordings of the Bible stories being read for you to watch together. You can find all the children’s stories in a playlist on our You Tube channel here, but we will post the links each day. You might want to watch Jessica reading the story of the Littlest Watchman here as an introduction to the Jesse Tree
May tracing your family history through the Jesse Tree be a blessing to you this Advent.