We have a new tree in our house this year -- it's a Jesse tree. What's a Jesse tree, you ask? It's a tree that tells the story of Jesus from the Old Testament to the New Testament through ornaments that you place on the tree every day. The ornaments start with Adam and Eve and take you through Jesus' birth.
The tree's name comes from Isaiah 11, which prophesies Jesus coming to earth. Isaiah 11:1 says "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." The passage goes on to describe Jesus and how He will rescue the nation of Israel. Jesus is a shoot of Jesse because the line of Jesus can be traced back to David and his father, Jesse.
Our Jesse tree came out of an ornament exchange with some friends. Each person made 28 of one ornament, then we all met and exchanged them. It was a great way to get a Jesse tree with minimal effort and expense. One of the moms put together a booklet that included a scripture passage and a devotional for each day.
The great thing about a Jesse tree is that it ties together the Old Testament stories with Jesus. Your kids (and you) get the opportunity to see how sin entered the world, how God called the Israelites to be his chosen people, how David became king of Israel, how Jesus' birth was prophesied and how Jesus was born. It gives your kids an overview of God's amazing plan for our salvation.
Some nights, we have read the Bible verses that go with the ornament and other nights, we have let the kids tell the stories in their own words. The other night my youngest treated us to a dramatic rendition of the story of David and Goliath complete with actions. The Jesse tree has given us the opportunity to talk about Jesus at the dinner table every night during this holiday season. I'll be honest and tell you that some nights, we've missed but we just catch up on the next night. Our Jesse tree is just another tool to bring Jesus to the forefront during the Christmas season.
You can buy Jesse tree kits, put together your own exchange or even just print the ornaments of any of the numerous websites that have them. It's a simple, fun way to give your kids a bigger picture of God's plan for our salvation.