One of our favorite Christmas traditions is the Jesse Tree. As we're gearing up for Christmas, I have already been looking forward to the quiet devotion of the Jesse Tree experience. It is my daily birthday gift to Jesus: laying my heart in His hands and delighting in His presence.
I want to share some of that anticipation with you today! Perhaps you'll even want to get a tree of your own going over the weekend!
What is the Jesse Tree?
The idea of a Jesse tree comes from Isaiah 11:1-2
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
In Isaiah, God's people were living in exile, cut off from intimate relationship with the living God. They felt hopeless and in despair. They could not see past their failures. The stump of Jesse is a symbol of sadness and discouragement. Of inadequacy, hurt, and shame.
We were that sad stump of Jesse before Christ entered our hearts. And even now, we may FEEL that discouragement and failure. But there is hope! Even in their circumstances, God promised His people that there would come a new time of renewal, building, and planting. Right there, in Isaiah 11:1-2, God promises new life springing from the dead stump; a new King emerging from the cut off lineage; a new light of good tidings shining in the dead of winter!
Just as Isaiah was announcing the end of exile and the bringing back to life a people who were dead (think, field of dry bones), he was looking forward and seeing the ultimate redemption plan, the ultimate life-giving salvation of God through Christ, the branch that would bear much fruit.
Isaiah 40:1-11 (emphasis mine)
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
God is faithful. He fulfilled his promises and brought about restoration with His people through Christ, who is the revelation of the love, grace, and faithfulness of a compassionate God. And as we celebrate His first coming, we look forward to the second advent and the completion of all His promises.
WOW! That's what I see when I look at our Jesse tree at Christmas. I see the 4,000 year long redemption plan of God! And the fact that while He was doing His work, He had you and I, our children and grandchildren, in mind.
The ornament set we bought on InspiredTraditions on Etsy
Giving Our Hearts to Jesus Every Day
This is what we will be doing to make our 24-hour-a-day devotion to Jesus a quiet time of worship and restoration.
• My Morning Advent Devotion: Before anyone else is awake, I'll come downstairs, have a cup of tea or coffee, and go through Ann Voskamp's free Jesse Tree devotional. I did that last year and it brought me to truly sweet places of contemplation and thankfulness.
The Kids' Advent Devotion: After their normal Bible quiet time, they'll come to the kitchen table and we'll open our advent bag together. It has a fun activity for the day and our Jesse tree ornament.After hanging up the ornament, I'll read the story out of one of their Bibles and then read the short Jesse Tree devotion that explains how that story points to Jesus. I usually have them draw a picture of what I'm reading during this time.
• Lunch and Dinner Reading: I try to read to them from my Bible during lunch, although I'm not as consistent with that as I'd like to be. I'll probably read the Bible passage from our Jesse Tree story during lunch, and the Christmas story in the gospels during dinner or at bedtime.
• Crafts/Lessons: Some days we'll do on the Christmas story and baby Jesus, or other Christmas/winter themes like snow or candy canes. Other days, we'll do things that expand on our Jesse tree story for that day. There are plenty ideas for those online!
• Evening Prayers: Simply praying with my husband or by myself, ending the day at the feet of Jesus and reflecting on his goodness as we pray over our children.
We want our children's days (and ours as well!) to be saturated with this story in the days leading up to Christmas. We hope and pray that their Christmas memories will be full of joy and full of awe. Full of worship and devotion.
We pray that their identity in Christ would be firmly rooted in their little souls, and that they would see themselves in the “To” line of God's love letter, starting all the way back in Genesis.
If you are inspired to start your own Jesse Tree tradition, read my last post on how we got started. There are many links to other sites there that have inspiration, free devotions, and different sets of instructions for making your own tree.
You can start your Jesse Tree devotion on the on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is traditional for advent, or on December 1. We start December 1st because I need that transition week. :)
I pray that you would enter into this Christmas season with great anticipation, expecting and seeking to meet with Jesus every day.
I am an ordinary wife, mom, and homemaker, who loves and follows an amazing God. I'm passionate about encouraging and supporting homemakers as we love our families and serve our Lord in everything we do. I blog at the Proverbial Homemaker - come find me there!