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Starting a Jesse Tree

The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity for teaching about Jesus Christ, and creating family memories. Like most opportunities, it also comes with temptations. What should be a time of focusing on the gospel together often becomes a season of stress and family conflict. To my surprise I have already fallen into some of those temptations this year, and it is not even December. I believe that most Christians want to focus on Jesus at Christmas, but deliberate efforts have to be made in order to achieve this. The amazing truth is that God became man in order to save us! How can this truth dominate our Christmas season?

One way to ensure that our Christmas is focused on Jesus is to create special family traditions that seize the opportunities the season offers. A tradition that has been recommended on many sites and in Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Your Traditions is that of the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree tradition helps families to pay attention to the way the whole Bible leads up to Jesus Christ. Many adults struggle to understand the way the Bible fits together. The beauty of this tradition is that year after year, the images and devotions reinforce the way the Bible leads up to Christ. Giving children a deep understanding of God's plan in the Bible is a wonderful gift for them to take into life. Having a Jesse tree is a fun way to give this gift, as children will enjoy the different decorations for each day.

You can read suggested family devotions for this year from the Reformed Church of America. You can also read Lindsay's compilation of pictures and links about their family's Jesse tree. The image above is courtesy of RE at St Thomas More School. This picture represents just one of many ways to incorporate a Jesse tree into your home. I am not sure yet whether or not we will have a separate Jesse tree or incorporate the little decorations into our existing tree, bringing one out each day in the lead up to Christmas. I am sure the tradition would still be memorable, even if there was not a separate tree. I also need to work out how to incorporate our existing lovely advent calendar. We will probably just use this as an additional lovely decoration and fun visual reminder of the meaning of Christmas.

PB  – (December 13, 2009 at 10:15 PM)  

Hmn...I'll have to look into this. Is there a difference between a Jesse tree and a Chrismon tree? I mean, beside the colour of the ornaments?

Sherrin  – (December 14, 2009 at 10:25 AM)  

Well, in our case the ornaments are going to be added to our existing Christmas tree. The only difference between these ornaments and traditional Christmas tree ornaments will be that each one will represent something about the Bible and Christ. For example, two of the ornaments are Joseph's coat and the whale that swallowed Jonah. So yes, I think there is a difference . . . these ornaments mean something so therefore the tree becomes more than just a nice decoration. We've already collected mainly angels and stars for our tree, because these actually mean something in the Christmas story, so when I eventually make/buy all the Jessee tree ornaments they will gradually add more meaning to the tree.

PB  – (December 16, 2009 at 10:38 PM)  

It sounds fantastic. I was just wondering if they are similar to something called a Chrismon tree, which also emphasizes meaningful ornaments, but they tend to be all white, sometimes with gold trim. They were especially popular in the 70's and 80's, but are still v. common in churches. Do you know anything about how they differ from Jessie trees? They sound similar, with the main goal being something more meaningful thanthe christmas tree.

Sherrin  – (December 17, 2009 at 3:05 PM)  

As you probably worked out from my first reply, I'd never heard of a Chrismon tree and thought you'd just spelt Christmas wrong! Thanks for explaining. I've now done a bit of research. You can see the Chrismon ornaments here:

These ornaments are very different from the Jesse tree ones. The purpose of the Jesse tree is to follow through the lineage of Jesus and show the way he fulfills the Old Testament. The Chrismon tree does not seem to feature many of these Old Testament stories (such as creation, Elijah, Ruth, etc.) and instead focuses on symbols for God himself and for the life of Jesus. In my opinion, these ornaments look great but many of them would be less useful for teaching small children.

PB  – (December 18, 2009 at 9:39 AM)  

Thanks for the link Sherrin. That makes sense.

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