It’s almost December. Christmas is just around the corner. This is my favorite time of year. There is so much to do and so much to enjoy. Yet it is easy for the real reason for Christmas to get lost in the shopping, baking, celebrating and decorating. So what can we do to keep Jesus at the center of our preparations and celebrations?
How about a Jesse Tree? Have you ever seen one? The Jesse Tree is a very old Christmas tradition, dating back to medieval times. Medieval churches used Jesse Trees to teach illiterate people about the Bible, from the creation to the birth of Jesus. Sometimes the stories were told through large carvings, tapestries or stained glass windows. Today they are used like an Advent calendar.
If you want to start a Jesse Tree tradition for your family, here are some suggestions for how to go about it.
You can use a tree branch, a real or artificial Christmas tree or a paper cutout of a tree. Every day in December, take a few moments together to share a Bible verse with your family and place one decoration on the tree.
You might want to spend a little time together every Sunday afternoon making the ornaments for the coming week. They can be as simple as drawings on plain paper, cut out and placed on the tree branches. If you are more ambitious, there are lots of cute ideas online in sites like Pinterest. You also might have some of the items already on hand, either in your existing Christmas decorations or on the toy shelf.
Here are some suggested Bible verses and decorations to get your creative process started. Feel free to use your own ideas and have fun focusing on the coming birth of Jesus throughout the next four weeks.
Dec 1 – Bible verse: Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-4 – Creation
Decoration: a green and blue globe or circle to represent the earth or a sun, moon, star or animal
Dec 2 – Genesis 2:4 – Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden
Decoration: a tree, a man or a woman
Dec 3 – Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24 – Fall of Man
Decoration: an apple or a serpent
Dec 4 – Genesis 6:5-8, 13-22, 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6:22 – Noah and the Flood
Decoration: a boat, animals, rainbow or a dove
Dec 5 – Genesis 12: 1-3 – Abraham
Decoration: a torch, sword or mountain
Dec 6 – Genesis 25:1-34, 28:10-15 – Jacob’s Ladder
Decoration: a kettle or a ladder
Dec 7 – Genesis 37: 23-28; 45: 3-13 – Joseph’s Coat
Decoration: multicolored cloth, a bucket or silver coins
Dec 8 – Exodus 2:1-10 – Baby Moses
Decoration: basket, baby, rushes or a river
Dec 9 – Exodus 4:20 – Moses and the Burning Bush
Decoration: a bush or a fire
Dec 10 – Exodus 12:1-42 – the Israelites and Passover
Decoration: a lamb
Dec 11 – Exodus 19:1 – 20:20 – the Ten Commandments
Decoration: two “stone” tablets
Dec 12 – Joshua 6: 1-20 – Joshua and the fall of Jericho
Decoration: a trumpet
Dec 13 – Ruth 1:4, Matthew 1:5 – Ruth and Boaz
Decoration: a sheaf or corn or wheat
Dec 14 – 1 Samuel 16: 1-3 – King David
Decoration: a six-pointed star
Dec 15 – 1 Kings: 6 – Solomon’s Temple
Decoration: a temple
Dec 16 – 1 Kings 18: 16-39 – Elijah and Baal’s Priests
Decoration: a bonfire
Dec 17 – Isaiah 11: 1-11 – “Jesse” prophecy
Decoration: a tree branch
Dec 18 – Matthew 3:13-17 – John the Baptist
Decoration: a seashell
Dec 19 – Luke 1:26 – 38 – Mary
Decoration: a white flower
Dec 20 – Luke 1:39 – 56 – Elizabeth
Decoration: a woman with a baby
Dec 21 – Luke 1:57 – 80 – Zechariah
Decoration: a pencil or a tablet
Dec 22 – Matthew 1:19-25 Joseph
Decoration: a hammer
Dec 23 – Luke 2: 8-20 – the Shepherds
Decoration: a sheep
Dec 24 – Matthew 2: 1-12 – The Wisemen
Decoration: a gold star, three gifts or three crowns
Dec 25 – Luke 2:1-8 – Jesus is born
Decoration: a baby, a manger
I would love to see pics of your Jesse Tree! Please send them to me and I will post them here in the coming weeks!