“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Is 11:1)
Decorating a Jesse Tree is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent. However, if you don’t already have the ornaments, it takes planning. Gather up your materials and make the ornaments ahead of time so that you can start on time. Otherwise, you’ll start and probably not get too far. If you don’t have time to make them, you can always purchase a kit.
Last year, one of the moms in my homeschool group invited a bunch of other families to participate in a Jesse tree ornament swap – kind of like a cookie swap only with ornaments. A fully decorated Jesse tree has 29 ornaments. Each family made a bunch of the same ornament(s) and swapped them with the other families so each family ended up with 29 different ornaments for their tree.
Doing a swap accomplished four great feats:
- Cut down on the mom-overhead: supplies were needed for only a specific ornament, so mom did less running around
- Increased the kid efficiency: with each rendition of the ornament, the kids grew in skill and independence.
- Building up of the community: Working towards a common goal, the families got together for a party to do the swap and came together to pray and share.
- The Jesse Tree was completely decorated by the end of Advent!
This worked for a number of families. It can also work in a parish or with a group of CCD classes. Time is short, but if you move quickly, you can pull it off!
More about the Jesse Tree
I remember hearing about the Jesse Tree, but I was never quite sure what it was until I started homeschooling. The Jesse Tree is similar to a Christmas tree in that we decorate it. It is different in that the decorating takes place by adding one ornament to the Jesse Tree during each day of Advent. Each ornament added to the tree relates to the story of our salvation history.
Salvation history is the story of God’s saving work in time. We all know the story: We start with creation, then Adam and Eve and the fall. From the time of the fall, God had a plan to save us through the obedience of His son, using many people along the way: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, etc, going all the way to Jesus. When the daily ornament is hung on the tree, a scripture passage is read which tells the story of that day – a story that continues on the path to Jesus, just like what we do in our spiritual preparation during Advent.
The first ornament is a stump, and 1 Sam16:1-13 is read. It is the story of Jesse.
Why Jesse and who is he? Grieving his disappointment with King Saul, the Lord sent Samuel to find a new king for Israel. He sent Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem. Jesse had seven sons, the youngest, David, whom we know as King David, the greatest of Israel’s Kings. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is from the line of David. It is Jesus who is the shoot from the stump of Jesse referred to in the scripture passage above.
So we start with the story of Jesse on the first Sunday of Advent. On Monday of the first week, the ornament is a depiction of the world, symbolizing God’s creation of the world and reading from Genesis 1. On Tuesday of the first week, the ornament is a snake or an apple, symbolizing the fall of man, and reading from Genesis 3. And so it continues day after day until story is told until we celebrate the beautiful feast of Christmas.
That’s the Jesse tree in a nutshell – something to do as a family, a group, or a parish. Below, I’m including some links that you might find helpful.
Gettin’ Ready, Anne
This site, Domestic Church , has instructions on how to make the tree and pictures of the ornaments with instructions on how to make them. (Generally, this site is loaded with good ideas)
Ornament patterns & reflections from Faith & Family (scroll down).
Instructions for doing a swap from National Catholic Register
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Is 11:1-10)