Jesse Trees are a very old tradition which began back in medieval times and were used to tell the story of God’s love for the world from the time of creation through the Christmas story. These trees took many forms – from intricate tapestries, to stained glass windows, to large carvings. They were intended to help those who were unable to read to learn the Bible stories showing God involvement with mankind throughout history down to the birth of the Christ child. Nowadays they have morphed into something like an Advent calendars where beginning with the First day of Advent a special ornament related to these stories are placed upon the tree.
It is called a Jesse Tree based on the scripture from Isaiah written centuries before Christ which spoke prophesies about the coming of the Messiah:
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, he Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. [Isaiah 11:1-4 (NIV)]
Our theme for this holiday season during our midweek advent services will center around the Jesse Tree – the seed of its beginning, the root of the tree, the life of the tree and the first fruits coming from it. All this will also explore our relationship to this tree as members of God’s family. I pray these midweek services will be especially meaningful to each of you as we prepare for the coming of our Lord. I look forward to seeing you there.
Having just gone through Thanksgiving, I’m sure many of us are just beginning to come out of our food comas. I tried not to over-indulge and was generally successful. It is a time of year when we celebrate the rich provision God has made for us and it’s easy to get lost in the physical things for which we are thankful. Let us not lose sight of the greatest gift – the One from Whom all blessings flow. Our Thanksgiving Eve service gave us an opportunity to do just that and to remember that whether we are in need or blessed with plenty, we should always give thanks to the One who knows our circumstances and is constantly working to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
As I was fond saying when I was serving as your Vicar – come sit by me. It is a wonderful view from where I sit, with a gracious God looking down on all of us.