December 2, 2018
In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. Jeremiah 33:15
In the entrance of the church you no doubt noticed what looks like a Christmas tree loaded with colored decorations. Take a closer look! It is what’s known as a “Jesse tree”, and the ornaments were made by families and individuals who attended our Advent afternoon of prayer.
The Jesse tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Jesse tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” It’s echoed in our first reading today from the prophet Jeremiah. Jesse was the father of King David. We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.
On the tree you’ll see symbols representing Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, David, Samuel and Ruth – figures named in the genealogy of Jesus. They are reminders that God is at work in the world through people who are willing to be His servants and instruments – and that includes us!
With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Gentiles (non-Jews) who believe in Him are now grafted on to the Jesse tree. We have become part of the story of salvation that extends back in time more than 4,000 years! Examine the ornaments on the Jesse tree. They contain scripture passages to contemplate – passages that we may well hear proclaimed in this beautiful preparatory time for Christmas.