Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Jesse Tree

Miniature, Jacques de Besançon, Paris, c.1485.
In my (Willa's)  family, Advent traditions are very simple.   Partly this is because during many years, we "lived our Advent".  One year I made a list of all the Advents that were very journey-to-Bethlehem like in that we were away from home, or dealing with medical issues, or with loss.    The list helped console me a bit -- up till then I felt like I was definitely earning a flunking grade in "Christmas tradition!"    But after making that log of hospital vigils, bedrest pregnancies, pregnancy losses and sudden moves to new locations, all taking place between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I realized that there are many ways to glorify God and our family's way developed in response to what He gave us during that season.  

That being said, every year I try to add a new tradition (if there IS such a thing as "new traditions" -- LOL) or so to the liturgical year to make it more meaningful to the children.  
One that we have at least attempted for the last few years has been the Jesse Tree.

You can find more information about this tradition at Catholic Culture

No doubt, part of the reason I respond to this tradition is that I grew up in an evangelical Protestant church.   Both in home and in church, I was soaked in Bible stories.   I know many Catholics who are very vague about their own salvation history.   This should not be!  As Catholics, we are part of what our first pope called:

" a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

We are part of that story of darkness to light, which still continues until Christ comes again!   I want my children to grow up hearing those stories again and again, so it's part of every stage of their lives.

To this day, Bible stories keep deepening in meaning to me as I live through some of the things that the early followers of God lived through -- sorrow, sin, faith, hope.  It is truly a rich inheritance we are baptized into.

As Karen Edmisten points out , the Jesse Tree is like a review and distillation of the whole Bible story, showing how all of it points to the advent of Our Redeemer.

As she also points out, it is not necessary to get everything perfect in order to have a meaningful tradition.   There is my biggest trap in a nutshell -- worrying about not "getting it perfect"!   But Karen is so right.   Some people have a gift for crafts and creative projects, and those people bless everybody.  But your own do it yourself efforts are beautiful because they are your own.  God was delighted with the widow's mite.  Give what you have!

Here's what the Ryans have:

According to Amazon, I bought this book almost exactly 5 years ago. .. too late for that Advent, but we've used it in one way or another ever since. 

  • Ornaments from here.  This site also has meditations and scripture references to go with the ornaments, and you can get them in large or small sizes. 
  There are all sorts of places you can find Jesse Tree ornaments or symbols on the web.   Me, I like simple, streamlined but not cartoony, and large.     I backed them up with purple cardstock and laminated them with contact paper because I wanted the little ones to be able to handle them.   Some people draw their own or have their kids draw them.   Some make wooden ornaments or use sculpey clay.  The possibilities are endless.

  • A Tree to hang the ornaments on --   This year I'm using this old Advent tree that my mother in law made for her kids, probably half a century ago now.  We are so fortunate to have been the ones to inherit it!  It's still in great shape.
Other years I just kept the ornaments in a box so that little hands could pull them out.

Today is the day that the Old Testament mass reading is from Isaiah 11 --

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
   from his roots a Branch will bear fruit

That made it very easy to pull up the Mass reading from an app on my IPhone and read it to the boys to explain the origin of the Jesse Tree. It is such a beautiful passage.    It seemed to bring poetry into our reading circle.   I am thinking of reading it every day until they have it memorized.

1 comment:

  1. I have had that book for at least five years....no. More. ten??? I have never read it. Hoping to start tonight?


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