Advent Celebration: The Jesse Tree
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The Jesse Tree for Advent is a beloved family Christmas tradition. Embrace and experience the holiday season in a new, deeply meaningful way when you add the Jesse Tree to your pre-Christmas days.
There are funny Christmas movies to watch, holiday lines to wait in, and ugly sweaters to wear to a party. Even getting a bad parking spot at Walmart this time of year feels like a Christmas ritual.
It makes your heart smile, even while it’s just a little exhausting.
And somewhere amidst the noise of the holiday season, your heart is crying out for some quietness to savor the reason you’re celebrating Christmas at all.
That’s why your family needs The Jesse Tree tradition this December.
The children gather around the table with hushed excitement. Daddy lights the first candle, then the next. Someone turns off the rest of the lights in the house and the room is lit gently by candlelight.
The wax begins to drip down the side of the candles onto the wooden wreath used every year at this time. Mama pulls out the now-tattered book everyone loves and begins to read of The Jesse Tree.
And this favorite family tradition is embraced for yet another year, knitting hearts together and creating memories.
Thanks to Graceful Abandon for letting us share this marvelous article to help you enhance your holiday traditions.
The Jesse Tree For Advent: A Cherished Family Christmas Tradition
Once upon a time, in the Middle Ages, people looked at stained glass windows and carved Jesse trees in humble churches and awe-inspiring cathedrals to see the stories of the Bible.
They didn’t know how to read, but they knew the symbols and what they were speaking to them.
Symbols that told of King David and his family tree, the prophecies of Isaiah, and other Old Testament accounts…all pointing toward the birth of the long awaited Messiah.
They knew about promises to Abraham and the father of shepherd-turned-king David become famous, for it was into the family tree of Jesse that Jesus was born.
These are the ‘Jesse Tree Bible verses’:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.Isaiah 11:1,10
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
Today we don’t look at windows with stories in the glass or symbols carved out of wood, but we do read and remember the same stories that have stirred hearts with hope and love for centuries.
And that remembering, that intentional contemplating, makes the advent of the Christmas season even sweeter.
The Jesse Tree tradition found its way to our family as a fun way to count down to Christmas because we would make Jesse Tree ornaments each day and hang them on our tree.
But then we found a Jesse Tree storybook to use at bedtime and a new tradition was born. We began to read by candlelight; one candle on the first night, two on the second, until finally there were 25 lights on Christmas.
The symbolism of the light of the world piercing the darkness is sweet, and the story woven with precious care.
By the time it comes to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the children have remembered the Garden, the flood, the ram in the thicket that took Isaac’s place, a young boy anointed king, and so many other significant events that lead to a manger in Bethlehem.
And while using a Jesse Tree for Advent is a fun and cherished family Christmas tradition, it’s also so much more.
3 Reasons The Jesse Tree Advent Tradition Is Great For Families
If you’ve been looking for a way to make Christmas more significant for your family or just hoping to find a Christmas tradition idea that everyone will enjoy, this is the one you’ve been waiting for!
1. The Jesse Tree Reminds You Why The Advent Season Is Important
Oftentimes the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas pass in a blur of lights, cookie crumbs, and impatient drivers honking at you so they can take your parking spot.
But we all know that’s not what Christmas is about. So why not take time each day to read a Bible story that points your heart and the hearts of your children toward Jesus?
2. The Jesse Tree Tradition Makes You Slow Down And Savor Christmas
The first year that we started reading The Jesse Tree each night before bed, it felt like the world was conspiring against us.
How could it be that our lives were so busy that we couldn’t slow down to light some candles and read a ten-minute story to our children about Jesus?
Talk about a wake up call!
By intentionally stopping the scurrying from one holiday activity to the next and sitting down all together, every night for 25 consecutive nights, we slowed down and savored Christmas in a way that we hadn’t before.
And now it’s the Christmas tradition we value above all others, because it helps us value Jesus over everything else.
3. The Jesse Tree Paints The Picture Of Salvation
The most important reason to make The Jesse Tree a part of your Advent celebration is that it is the Gospel.
Christmas has no real value if you take away your need for a Savior and the amazing gift of God’s only Son being sent to earth.
When you use The Jesse Tree for your family celebration each night, you read about God creating man to walk with in the Garden, sin destroying that beautiful relationship, and all of the ways that God began to lead His children back to Himself.
Your children will see their favorite Bible characters and stories woven together as part of God’s master plan to point to Jesus and the salvation we all need, which is the true heart and meaning of The Jesse Tree.
If your children are Christians, this will be a sweet balm to their hearts and make the holidays more precious. If they don’t yet know Jesus, this is an awesome opportunity to share the Gospel with them, from the very beginning.
The Jesse Tree is part of family discipleship.
Choosing The Right Jesse Tree Devotional For Your Family
Wondering how to do The Jesse Tree in your home?
Well, there are several things to consider when choosing the right Jesse Tree book for your family. After all, this can easily double as your family devotions for Advent!
How old are your kids? Do you want a Jesse Tree project to go along with their Advent stories? What’s your family culture like and what will appeal most? What is your traditional family devotions style?
The Jesse Tree Storybook For Children (that all ages will love)
The one we have used many years and enjoyed the most for all ages is The Jesse Tree by McCaughrean.
It makes a marvelous bedtime story, but can be enjoyed at any time of day. The author and illustrator weave a modern story and the tradition Jesse Tree Bible stories together in an enticing way that is great for young children, but everyone will enjoy it (my teens look forward to it almost more than our younger ones!).
Beautiful Jesse Tree Devotional (for all ages)
This book, Unwrapping The Greatest Gift, is by Ann Voskamp and is so artfully written and artistically illustrated that it’s a “must have” family devotions for Advent book.
Our family actually reads this over breakfast each day during the pre-Christmas season. Like other Jesse Tree readings, it starts at Creation and culminates with Jesus’ birth. It highlights God’s magnificent love in a way that allure hearts to their Savior.
Even our younger ones enjoy the writing and The Jesse Tree images, while the older ones gain deeper insight and truth from the words.
Simple Advent Jesse Tree Devotional (great for teens and adults)
While this book can be understood by all ages, The Advent Jesse Tree Devotional is more of a traditional devotional than a family storybook. However, we’ve enjoyed reading this at a meal together and talking about it.
While not technically a Jesse Tree devotional, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy is a marvelous Advent family devotional book for daily reading. It uses The Jesse Tree bible verses and many others to point towards the greater meaning of Christmas.
This year we’ll be reading it individually by putting it on all of our Kindles and then talking about it together during our family discipleship times, before we read the storybook each night.
Now I know this was about family Advent traditions, but Great Rejoicings is just too good not to mention (so is his other, less traditional Christmas story)! Written by a man my husband and I have been blessed to call pastor, mentor, and friend, it’s a beautiful devotional to direct your heart in this season and I totally recommend it for your personal quiet time!
Choosing Your Family’s Advent Tree Experience
As you can see, there are many different Jesse Tree devotionals out there and many ways to enjoy and experience them. What’s the best way for your family?
You can make this as simple or elaborate as suits your family’s culture and needs. In fact, each year can look a little different. Some years we craft, others we don’t.
But every year we read our favorites to candlelight and look forward to hitting ‘pause’ on the hustle and bustle once a day. It’s totally okay to pick and choose what works best for you and yours. Here are some simple ideas.
Reading And Discussing The Jesse Tree Stories
Pick the Jesse Tree Advent family devotions book that looks best for your family and read it each day.
Talk about the story and what it means. What does it teach you about God? How can you share that particular Christmas message with someone else?
Reading And Crafting Jesse Tree Ornaments
Making the Jesse Tree ornaments together is also fun. You can use your own imagination or purchase a DIY Jesse Tree Ornament craft kit which includes all the symbols for Jesse Tree decorating you will need.
The kids can color them in while you read to them, or you can all read over a cup of cocoa and color together. Then hang the symbols on your Jesse Tree or clip them to a piece of twine by your dining table so you can see them several times a day and talk about what they each mean.
Another option if you like this idea but aren’t a crafty person is to buy an already made Jesse Tree set.
Making A Jesse Tree Special Occasion
As I mentioned above, in our family we like to light candles and read together each night. But we also enjoy reading over breakfast or in the afternoon with some cocoa or tea.
Other ideas are doing a daily “good deed” for someone in your community, praying for a different missionary each day for 25 days, sending a card to someone every day, or reading and then singing some Christmas carols together after.
What remains constant from year to year is that we celebrate the root of The Jesse Tree (God Himself!), His beautiful gift (Jesus), and the grace that grafts us into that family tree.
What would make your occasion most special? Choose it and do it!
The above is The Jesse Tree – Ann Voskamp’s son made it: Cradle To Cross Wreath.