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Jesse Tree and Advent Bridge Path From Past to the Future.


The Jesse Tree is the perfect complement to Advent. Its is a great way to recall history of Jesus and his family as well as applying it to the four weeks of advent that are highlighted with the four advent candles on the advent wreath. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said that the messiah will spring from the roots of Jesse, with the famous Jesse being David’s father. For the Jews, David was the last king of Israel and will be until the Messiah comes. For Christians, Jesus came from Jesse and is a direct descendent of David. Advent is the period where Christians recall the Christ Child being born and look forward to the second coming of our Lord.

Advents readings are assembled to remind us of the prophecies of the Old Testament with St. Paul reminding us of the reference to how Jesus was rooted in Jesse, or Christianity is rooted in Judaism. Advent is the perfect period of reminding us of our roots in the Jewish faith and how the Old Testament prophets foretold of all of this.

Because of the biblical references to the roots of Jesse, it was a logical leap to having a Jesse Tree that will match the readings of Advent that recall the family history of Jesus. In art thought out the Middle Ages the Jesse trees depict the linage of Jesus, with one of the earliest tree images appearing in the stained glass window of Chartres Cathedral dating back to 1150 A.D.

There are several different ways to produce a Jesse Tree and utilize it in Advent in conjunction with the advent wreath or as a defacto advent calendar. One of the oldest representations of the Jesse tree had ornaments that represent all 28 generations that Matthew listed as the opening of the Gospel of Matthew. The list starts with Jesse and Ends with Jesus. In its rawest form the genealogy and family tree of Jesus.

The Germans who are credited with the earliest Advent Calendars also were some of the early users of a Jesse tree. As we do now, hanging ornaments on our Christmas trees, the Germans opted to add scrolls representing the prophets and an image of Mary holding the Christ-child.

This practice has evolved into what many churches and homes do in lieu of the use of a Christmas tree. The Jesse Tree and Advent have been linked and each day there are new ornaments added to the tree that recall parts of Salvation history summarized though old testament stories. Also presents are the representations of the covenants’ that God made with the Jews. This paves the way to the new covenant that Catholics celebrate at mass in the Eucharist. The Old Testament covenants were made with Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, and Joseph. In each case God fulfilled the promises he made in his people.

Advent helps us remember this period in our history as a people. Advent wreaths, Advent Candles and the Jesse Tree itself are perfect ways to look forward to the coming of the Messiah by remember the past.

This article was published on Tuesday 19 August, 2008.

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