Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jesse Tree FAQs


Creating a Jesse Tree is a wonderful way to teach Jesus' lineage and Salvation History in general. It is also a very nice preparation for Christmas . . . . .  waaaaay better than counting down by "shopping days"!

Two different traditions have mingled over MANY years to produce the Jesse Tree we most commonly see during the time of Advent;
Church Art Design and Mystery Plays.

Let's start with the name itself, "Jesse Tree".
Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus  Remember the passage in *Isaiah 11:1!

And, just to give you an idea of the time frame. Remember David?
David is the boy who killed Golaith - see: 1Samuel 17-58, he was a shepherd boy and wrote many of the Psalms. He also became a King!
David is Jesus' great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, (this could go on for awile) . . . Let's simplify!

David is Jesus' 24X great grandfather.  :-)

Now, here are the two historical elements that came together to create the Jesse Tree we make in our home.

In Church art a design developed showing the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree were figures of Mary and Jesus. This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The Cathedral of Chartres (which was dedicated in 1260) has a particularly beautiful Jesse Tree window.

Another development in religious art during the Middle Ages was that of Mystery Plays--drama that depicted various Bible stories or lives of Saints and Martyrs. These plays were performed in churches as part of the liturgical celebrations. One such play was based on the Bible account of the fall of Adam and Eve. The "Tree of Life" used during the play was decorated with apples.

Quite possibly this is also the forerunner of our own Christmas tree!
Combining the two ideas of the stained glass Jesse Tree window and the Tree of Life from the Mystery Play we come up with our Jesse Tree Advent project. This custom has been used for years to help Christians to prepare for Christmas.

Look for the next post!  HOW TO MAKE A JESSE TREE.

sources: Catholic Culture, EWTN,  The Bible

* Isaiah 1:1
1 But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
3 Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.

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