The Jesse Tree is a well established tradition of counting down the days to Christmas by remembering God’s promises to Israel about the saviour to come. Each day a new ornament is added to the tree, and each day the ornament reminds us to tell an Old Testament story, working our way through the scriptures until Jesus is born.
But how confident are we to tell these stories with just a picture and a bible reference to prompt us – especially if we are teaching them to children?
Thankfully, like many well established traditions, the Jesse Tree has an abundance of resources and guides floating around on the internet to help you use this resource at home. There are so so many materials to use with the Jesse Tree. And, by far and away, our favourite one is Sally Lloyd Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible.
She must have done this on purpose: There are 24 bible stories covering the Old Testament and Jesus’ birth. Just like all the other Jesse Tree resources out there, it weaves many different bible stories into one epic narrative of how God saves the world through his Messiah – but with the added bonus of it being spiritually, theologically profound, and beautifully illustrated. These 24 stories are a perfect resource for observing Advent, whether with kids or as grown ups.
This year we have made our own set of Jesse Tree ornaments to use with the Jesus Storybook Bible. Inspired by Cath McLennans’s felt ornaments, we used these colouring-in templates from a family in Swaziland to make a felt ornament for every story. Plus an extra 25th ornament of the Stump of Jesse. It’s not a Jesse Tree without the Stump of Jesse!
All we needed was felt in a range of colours, a sharp pair of scissor, craft glue and a needle and thread to embroider a few ornaments with tiny details. Following Cath’s lead, star sequins also came in handy for Abraham’s ornament.
Can you work out which one goes with each story?
And then, because Alison is a crazy person who makes unusual choices about what to do with her free time, she finished each ornament off by embroidering the name of the story on a matching piece of felt and blanket stitching them together.
If you are a normal person with a regular amount of patience you can skip that step and just stitch a bit of ribbon or embroidery thread to the top of each one.
And you are done!
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.