Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Jesse Tree

Christmas in in full swing here at Holding Little Hands and family.

Being married to a pastor has taught me that it is imperative to take advantage of holiday festivities immediately following Thanksgiving, in order to free up our schedules for the weeks leading up to Christmas.

So far, the agenda has included a visit to the Gaylord, a trip on the North Pole Express train, a viewing of the Polar Express, and a pancake breakfast scheduled with Santa. Also in the mix are plans for a holiday party, the building of a ginger bread house, a celebration of Chris' 30th birthday, and an early Christmas with one side of the family.

All of that, and yet we still don't have a decent Christmas card picture to show for it.

Go figure.

I love all the glitz and dreaminess of Christmas. However, as much as I want Park to have fond memories of baking Christmas yummies and partaking in holiday festivities, I pray that those pale in comparison to his memories of how our family celebrates the birth of our Saviour.

In light of this, we have added a new tradition this year that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to instill the true value of Christmas in their children.

It is called the Jesse Tree.

The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots." It is a vehicle to tell the Story of God in the Old Testament, and to connect the Advent Season with the faithfulness of God across thousands of years of history.

There are many creative ways this can be done, but in our family it simply looks like this:

Starting on Nov 30, we began reading passages of scripture each night. We've been using Park's Classic Bible Story Book (which I LOVE!), and supplementing scriptures from our own Bibles. After reading the story, we memorize a short verse of scripture and make an ornament that represents what we have read. (So far, we have only been using very basic art supplies such as yarn, Popsicle sticks, foam sheets, construction paper, cotton and so on)

Each night, we hang the new ornament on a special Christmas tree that is in Park's bedroom. As we place it on the tree, we take a minute to look at the previous ornaments and briefly recap the theme and scripture we learned from the nights before.

I am amazed at how much he is remembering and how much he looks forward to the activities that the next night holds. It has become the highlight of the day for each of us.

If you are interested in duplicating this tradition for your own family, you could easily use a modified version of this for the remaining days. To simplify, listed below are the passages we are using and (the symbol) we are basing our ornament on:

Introduction of the Jesse Tree
1 Sam 16:1-13 Isa 11:1-1: (The Tree)

Creation- God Made Everything in His Image
Gen 1:1-2, 3 (Sun)

Adam and Eve- Consequences for our Actions
Gen 2 and 3 exerpts (Apple)

Noah- The Flood
Gen 6:11-22, 7:17-8:12, 8, 20-9:17 (Rainbow)

Abraham- The Promise
Gen 12:1-7, 15:1-6, 17, 18 (Tent)

Isaac and Rebekah- Going Above and Beyond
Gen 24 (Camel)

Jacob- Assurance of the Promise
Gen 27:41-28: 22 (Ladder)

Joseph-God's Providence
Gen 37, 39:1-50:21 (Coat)

Moses-God's Leadership and Provision
Exodus 2:1-4:20, Exodus 12-18 excerpts (Manna)

The Ten Commandments
Exodus 19-32 excerpts, Deuteronomy 34 (Stone Tablet)

Joshua-The Fall of Jericho and Entering The Promised Land
Deuteronomy 33, Joshua 1-5 excerpts (Sandal)

Gideon-Unlikely Heroes
Judges 6, 7 (Trumpet)

Samson- Importance of Staying in God's Boundaries
Judges 13-16 excerpts (Flexed Arm Muscle)

Ruth- God Rewards Loyalty
Book of Ruth excerpts (Wheat)

Hannah's Promise- Samuel Listened to God
1 Samuel 1-3 excerpts (Ear)

David and Goliath- Fear Not
1 Samuel 16, 17 (Sling Shot)

David the King- Becoming a Man after God's Own Heart
1 Samuel 18, 26, 31 excerpts, 2 Samuel 6, 7 excerpts (Harp)

King Solomon- Fulfillment of God's Promise
1Kings 1, 3, 8 excerpts (Crown)

Jonah- Obeying God the First Time
Book of Jonah (Fish)

Three Faithful Men- Following God Wholeheartedly
Daniel 3 (Fire)

Daniel- God is in Control
Daniel 6 (Lion)

Nehemiah- Rebuilding and Gathering Together
The Book of Nehemiah excerpts (Shovel)

Mary- Being Willing to Accept the Call
Luke 1 (Silhouette of Mary)

Jesus -Birth of the Messiah
Luke 2:1-20 (Manger Scene)

*Pictures to follow when blogger cooperates:)

We may not end up with a great Christmas card photo this year, but I'm so thankful that snapshots of Jesus are being stored up in Park's heart.