What is a Jesse Tree?
A Jesse Tree is a great way to share the lineage of Christ with our children and I especially love the idea of bridging the Old Testament with the birth of Jesus and the New Testament. Every day of Advent, you’ll read scripture or a Bible story with your children and hang an ornament on the Jesse Tree.
Ideally, you’ll make these ornaments yourself using found objects or felt. For us, this simply was not feasible this year, our first year of doing a Jesse Tree, so I decided to save myself some sanity and buy a kit. I purchased this one on Etsy and all I had to do was put stickers on the wooden ornaments and tie a loop. Piece of cake! If you have older kids, they can do it for you. The kit came with a devotional as well.
How Does it Work for Our Family?
My children are pretty young to handle the Jesse Tree. The devotional that came with the kit is pretty brief and very much above their heads. Fortunately, many of the stories are familiar to my almost 4 year old, so I have a few options for making it relatable:
- Find the story in one of our children’s Bibles, like My Favorite Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible. Read the story and then connect it with Christ.
- Use a similar Jesse Tree devotional. I really like this one from the Reformed Church in America’s website.
- Wing it. Tell the story myself, from memory, from scripture, or from any combination of the above sources.
I always try to connect it to something my children already understand, so when we were talking about the creation ornament, we sang our Genesis 1:1 song (from Desiring God’s children’s scripture memory program).
It can be a challenge because while my children are familiar with Bible stories, they may not be familiar with the focus of the ornament. For example, my daughter is very familiar with the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho, and the corresponding ornament is a picture of a horn. However, an important part of the focus of the devotional is Rahab, who is in Christ’s lineage. So for that ornament, we sang a Joshua song that she knows, read the story from The Jesus Storybook Bible, and then I added information about Rahab. Then we hung the ornament on the tree.
And have fun explaining Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. It’s a beautiful story of God’s provision and Abraham’s faithfulness, but a little hard to explain to a pre-schooler. The story is told in The Jesus Storybook Bible, and even there, they tell the complete story, without pulling any punches.
But the bottom line is that this devotional is not something you can just sit down and do with your 4 year old without finding outside sources. It will take some extra work, so it’s not quite what I had in mind right now for this stage of life. However, we are enjoying it, and my kids look forward to hanging up the ornaments every day.
Would I do it again? I think so. I really like the ornaments. They’re beautiful, especially for something as simple as vellum stickers on wood. I also love the idea of tying together the Old and New Testaments. But my kids are young: 4 months, 22 months, and 3-almost-4. So with their ages, I do think that Truth in the Tinsel would’ve been a better option for an Advent devotional this year, but I hadn’t heard about it when I purchased this kit. The Jesse Tree will probably work better when my kids are just a couple years older.
What Advent devotional are you doing with your children? How is it working out?