Christmas is Coming: Make a Jesse Tree!

We were nearing the end of a lovely Thanksgiving Day yesterday when Ben said, “And tomorrow is Christmas!” Not quite, buddy.

But Advent does begin on Sunday, and even though I wouldn’t mind waiting a bit, my children are quite ready to step into that season. Advent is a favorite time in our home when we dwell on God’s amazing love for us in sending His only Son to live among us and be like us, but without sin, so He could then take on our sin and die for us. Every year anew I am amazed as I try to grasp the idea of God taking on human form. I could sure do without the shopping and the frenzy, but I do love this time of year because it offers so many opportunities to naturally teach my children more about our amazing Lord.

Like others, there are many special things we do during Advent to help us focus our hearts on the Lord Jesus. For our evening family devotion time we use a felt Advent devotional set that we have rewritten several times through the years. I considered trying to post the instructions and readings here, but I couldn’t figure out how to conquer the logistics of putting up the patterns. Instead, here are directions for making a “Jesse Tree.” A Jesse Tree focuses on the family line of Jesus. You can find many versions of this online, some with printable ornaments. The ones I looked included not only people from Jesus’ family tree but also other important people from the Bible. If you want a summary of God’s work through the Old Testament, that’s fine, but I wanted to keep it to those directly in Jesus’ lineage. So we went through the passages, picking out characters we wanted to represent, and then we decided on a symbol for each. You don’t need to stick with our list of characters or symbols – read through the passages yourself and decide how you will represent those you choose.

To make a Jesse Tree: Find an attractive branch with many side branches. You may want to spray the branch white, but natural also looks beautiful. Place your branch in a container using one of these options:
- A flower pot. Anchor the branch with rocks or hold in place with a green florists cube.
- A clean, empty can which you have covered with fabric. Mix up plaster of Paris (buy at craft store) and water and pour into jar. When plaster is partially thickened, set branch in center. This is the option we use.

Begin by reading Isaiah 11:1. Discuss this prophecy. What does “a root of Jesse” (or “a stem of Jesse”) mean? Discuss how God planned exactly who would be the ancestors of Jesus both through Mary (Luke 3: 23-38) and Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph (Matthew 1: 1-16.) You might want to draw your family tree, going back several generations.

Each day read about one of Jesus’ ancestors. Have your children draw or create a 3D symbol to place on your tree. You can make them as simple or fancy as you wish. Embellish with glitter (crown), pieces of grain (Ruth), etc. You might mount each one on a circle of cardstock or a juice can lid. Add the name of the Bible person to the back of each symbol. If you want your ornaments to be more durable, put contact paper over your paper symbols. I’ve added some Scripture passages to read for each, but you can tailor this to the age and attention of your children, perhaps reading from a good Bible storybook for young children. I hope your children will have fun with this and that you will use it to “remember His wonders which He has done.”

Isaiah 11:1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Adam and Eve: Gen. - fruit tree. Gen. 2:4-3:24
Noah - Ark and/or rainbow Gen. 6:11-22, 7:1-8:22, 9:9-17
Abraham – stars Gen. 12:1-7, 15: 1-6
Isaac – ram Gen. 22: 1-19
Jacob – ladder Gen. 28: 12-15
Judah – lion (Gen. 49:8-12, Rev. 5:5)
Salmon and Rahab – scarlet thread (Joshua 2, 6:17, 22-35 , Hebrews 11; 31)
Boaz and Ruth – stalks of grain with hearts (Ruth – all, or 1:15-17. )
Obed – baby on a grandmother’s lap (Ruth 4: 16-22)
Jesse – a root (Isa. 11: 1-10)
David – harp (I Sam. 16, 17, II Sam. 17:1-17))
Solomon – bags of money with a crown (I Kings 3, many other passages)
Hezekiah – figs or sun (II King 18-20. Illness – II Kings 20:1-11)
Josiah – scroll (or little boy king sitting on big throne, holding scroll) (II Chr. 34:15-28)
Zerubbabel – In both Mary and Joseph’s line – the signet ring because he is where the two lines intersect (Ezra 3:8, Mt. 1:12, Lk 3:27)
Mary – heart (Luke 1: 26-56, 2:19, 2:51)
Joseph – carpenter’s hammer (Mt. 1:18-25)
Jesus – Chi Rho – the first two Greek letters of “Christ” (!!!)

Psalm 105: 5 “Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.”

Psalm 78:4 “We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”


Jill said…
Dear Anne,
It was so nice talking with you today.
I have taken this Jesse Tree suggestion. William, Jesse, and I are using the texts you've provided to read about Jesus' ancestors each school morning. Using cardboard discs cut from a cereal box, they take turns illustrating the character. I put the name and reference on the back. Our only problem is that we haven't found a suitable branch yet--David did too good of a job cleaning up the yard this autumn! Early next week we'll go for a walk in the woods to find one.

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