Planning Your Jesse Tree Advent Tradition

Jesse Tree Advent Christmas Catholic Tradition

See the previous post for the meaning behind the Jesse Tree tradition.

Starter Guide for the Jesse Tree Devotion

The Jesse Tree devotion takes some pre-planning, so start thinking about it in November. (The 1st Sunday of Advent in 2017 falls on December 3.)

Choose your Jesse Tree guide

First, find a Jesse Tree guide that contains all the daily prayers and Scripture citations.

Each day of Advent will have its own symbol and Scripture passage. For each symbol there is generally 1) a Scripture passage or verse, 2) a reflection on the Biblical story and 3) a prayer.

When choosing your family’s guide, look inside and ask yourself:

  1. Will the reflections point your family to a deeper understanding of God and His love? Are the reflections Christ-centered?
  2. Do the reflections speak to your heart? It would be a big disappointment to get ½ way through Advent and realize that the reflections fail to touch you in any way.
  3. Will the younger members of the family understand any part of the meditations? No Jesse Tree guide will speak to all ages or levels of understanding, but some are more child-friendly than others.

Choose your Bible translation.

Most guides will not contain the Scripture passages themselves – you’ll read those from your own Bible. So, your next step will be to choose a Bible.

I have considered reading some of the stories from a children’s Bible during our Jesse Tree devotion, but I have usually opted to use a standard translation instead. It’s so beneficial for children to hear the stories in higher-level language. Often, I read the day’s Bible story from a children’s Bible at bedtime after the Jesse Tree devotion, pointing out that it is the same one we heard earlier.

Choose ornaments/symbols that line up with your chosen Jesse Tree guide.

Now things get interesting: ornaments. The symbols I referred to above, such as an apple for Adam, an ark for Noah, and stars for Abraham, are depicted on ornaments that will be hung on your Jesse Tree.

Can’t you just picture all of your children waiting patiently on the days it’s not their turn, happy for the sibling who gets to hang the day’s ornament? Me neither, but we can dream.

Where will your ornaments come from? Will you buy a set or make them? Will you make one permanent set or will you plan to make the ornaments every year? Regardless of which route you choose here, be aware that Jesse Tree guides vary in terms of the symbols and Scripture passages they use, particularly after about the first 12 days of Advent. One guide may have a day for Jeremiah while another does not. Be sure your ornaments and reflections will line up.

If you decide to make ornaments, the possibilities are endless. Online you’ll find printable ornaments for your kids to color. My sister bought white Christmas tree balls and painted on each symbol. For another Jesse Tree she used small cross-stitch frames to frame the symbols she had drawn with colored pencils. Now she’s talking about coming up with actual cross-stitch patterns for each symbol. My sister is crazy.

I’ve made two sets of decoupaged-on-wood-disk ornaments and one set of applique felt ornaments. I once attempted to make a set using polymer clay. I managed an apple all right but got stuck on a ram for Isaac and gave up.

The point is, make a plan, try your plan, and start early!

Choose your Jesse Tree.

Don’t forget the “tree” in “Jesse Tree.” Will you hang your ornaments on your family Christmas tree? Is it up early enough?

Many families use a small artificial tree. One friend hung a garland along a curtain rod for her Jesse Tree ornaments. It was a great way to keep the ornaments out of little hands. In honor of being born in the 70’s I guess, I have a large felt banner with a felt tree and little hooks on which to hang our family’s ornaments.

Whatever you do, your Jesse Tree will become a tradition in your home well worth the preparation that goes into it. Don’t miss this chance for your family to grow in your understanding of God’s loving plan for our salvation!

Suzan Sammons is Mom to 6 daughters (toddler to college-age)  and 1 teenage son. She is a homeschooling mother and a writer and editor with The Saragossa Group. She and her husband have also co-written a Jesse Tree Advent devotional book.

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