Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Bonanza of Jesse Tree Options

I really love the whole concept of The Jesse Tree.

The Jesse Tree has its roots in the following scripture...
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 1:1

The Jesse Tree represents the family tree of Jesus and tells the entire story of God's salvation plan, beginning with creation and making its way through the Old Testament, showing how it all points to the coming of the Messiah. Reviewing this plan reminds us of how the Israelites waited for the birth of Jesus, and how we wait for His second coming today.

I wanted to post several Jesse Tree options for those of you who are looking to do this with your family. None of them are exactly alike. Some are geared towards adults, some towards kids. Some start on December 1st, some the 1st Sunday of Advent, some November 29th.

Remember, perfection is not what's required here. You can make your own ornaments to hang on a Jesse Tree, you can buy some ready made for you from Etsy, you can make simple print, cut and colour ornaments. Or you don't even have to do the ornaments at all. Obviously the devotions themselves, talking with your kids and focusing on Jesus, is the most important aspect of it all. The ornaments do add that extra dimension, and kids love them - but they are not required. Don't fall for the "if I can't do it perfectly, I'm not doing it all" mentality. Anything is better than nothing!

That being said, here is a list of the ones I've found. I hope you can find something suitable for your family!

1) A Jesus Advent Celebration from Ann Voskamp - this free download contains everything you need for your first Jesse Tree. Each day contains a scripture reading, a devotional, a prayer and an idea of something to do to apply the day's truth to our lives. This download also contains every single ornament you need - just print it out, attach it to card stock, punch holes, glue a ribbon"hook" on and you're all set! Or you could literally just print/cut them out and tape them onto a paper tree. Can't get much simpler than that! I do really love this devotional, but wish it was a bit more child friendly with simpler wording - I'm just not a huge fan of her style of writing. But this is definitely a great all-in-one package, and it's free! This is the one we're currently using - but I'm substituting stories from our Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Story Bible

Updated: It appears this is no longer being offered and that she has created a book called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift which you can purchase, and the ornaments are free.

2) Truth in the Tinsel is the ebook I reviewed the other day (congratulations again to Pam, Meg and Cynthia on winning the giveaway, and thanks Amanda for your generosity!). It sells for only $4.99 and is a perfect Jesse Tree style devotional to do with the preschool through early elementary set. It focuses more on the actual Christmas story, and not as much on the OT history. But I love that it is so flexible, that it's geared to littles, and that the ornaments are a part of the whole thing, so you don't have to do it ahead of time, but you do it together.

Updated to add: They now have printable ornaments!  If you were hesitating because you aren't crafty (me!) this is perfect for you.  You can use printable ornaments when you don't have time for the crafts, or simply use them for every day - up to you!

3) Advent Meditations by Grace Bible Church of Hollister: what I love about this free download is that this "book" actually contains 2 sets of Advent readings - one for kids and one for older children (teens) and adults. The adult devotional begins with a short devotional style summary of the day's truth, followed by scripture. Then at the bottom of the page it references which story from the Jesus Storybook Bible you are to read for the children's readings. The cons to this one is that no ornaments are included, and if you don't have the Jesus Storybook Bible you won't be able to do it with your kids.

4) Jesse Tree Family Devotions from the Reformed Church in America: This is a fantastic free resource for younger kids! Each day includes the scripture reference (you need to look it up and read it from your Bible), a devotional reading geared towards young children, a simple question to talk about what was just read, a pray and a black and white image that you can print, colour and turn into an ornament. The images aren't as beautiful as the Ann Voskamp ones, but they'll do!

5) Advent Devotional by Christ the King Presbyterian Church: this free resource is geared more towards a family worship style experience. Each individual devotion contains a scripture passage, a brief reflection style devotional on that passage, both an adult and a child's prayer, as well as hymn to sing together. There are no ornaments provided in this devotional.

6) Advent Jesse Tree Daily Devotions: This includes both an OT and NT scripture reference, a short devotional and a prayer/thanks. No ornaments are included, though ideas are given.

7) Jesse Tree Advent Reading Meditations from This Classical Life: Each day includes the theme, a scripture reference, an ornament idea, a short devotional followed by a couple of questions and a prayer. There are enough readings for the longest advent seasons, so during shorter advent seasons you have to double up or skip some.

8) Jesse Tree Parent Devotions: these online devotions are specifically for parents. They have had ornament sets and child devotional books for sale previously, but they're all sold out. Excellent resource if you're looking for something more in-depth for your own devotions this advent season.

9) Advent Reflections for the Jesse Tree from Faith Magazine: Each day has one main scripture verse followed by a very short description of the symbol and what it represents, followed by a longer scripture reference to look up. They also have the whole set of ornaments available for download, both small ones (3.5") and large ones (7.5").

10) Print Candee is offering a printable Jesse Tree Kit for free for a limited time on their Facebook page! The kit includes 3 sheets of 27 1.5" circle ornaments, 1 Scripture verse guide and 27 corresponding gift boxes to keep the ornaments in underneath the tree. They also have a tutorial on how to make the ornaments. This set is adorable!!

11) Jesus Storybook Bible Jesse Tree. This is a blog post describing how the Rutherfords have used only the Jesus Storybook Bible in order to do their Jesse Tree. Ornaments are not included, and obviously, the Jesus Storybook Bible is required. Because I'm always slightly leery of blog posts becoming unavailable (set as private, or simply removed), I'm going to include the schedule right here (ornament idea in brackets).
Dec 1 - Creation (dove): JSB pg 18-27 based on Genesis 1-2
Dec 2 - The Fall (fruit tree): JSB pg 28-37 based on Genesis 3
Dec 3 - The Flood (rainbow): JSB pg 38-47 based on Genesis 6-9
Dec 4 - Tower of Babel (tower): JSB pg 48-55 based on Genesis 11
Dec 5 - The Promise to Abraham (stars in the sky): JSB pg 56-61 based on Genesis 12-21
Dec 6 - Abraham and Isaac (ram): JSB pg 62-69 based on Genesis 22
Dec 7 - Jacob, Rachel and Leah (stalks of grain): JSB pg 70-75 based on Genesis 29-30
Dec 8 - Joseph (rainbow coat): JSB pg 76-83 based on Genesis 37-46
Dec 9 - Moses and the Burning Bush (burning bush): JSB pg 84-91 based on Exodus 3-13
Dec 10 - Moses and the Red Sea (split waters): JSB pg 92-99 based on Exodus 14-15
Dec 11 - The Law (stone tablets): JSB pg 100-107 based on Exodus 16, 17, 19-40
Dec 12 - Joshua and Jericho (trumpet): JSB pg 108-115 based on Joshua 3 and 6
Dec 13 - David's Anointing (David the shepherd boy): JSB pg 116-121 based on 1 Samuel 16
Dec 14 - David and Goliath (slingshot): JSB pg 122-129 based on 1 Samuel 17
Dec 15 - David the Shepherd (lyre): JSB pg 130-135 based on Psalm 23, 51, 2 Samuel 7
Dec 16 - Naaman (heart): JSB pg 136-143 based on 2 Kings 5
Dec 17 - Isaiah (crown): JSB pg 144-151 based on Isaiah 9, 11, 40, 50, 53, 55, 60
Dec 18 - Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel and a lion): JSB pg 152-159 based on Daniel 6
Dec 19 - Jonah (fish): JSB pg 160-169 based on Jonah 1-4
Dec 20 - The Prophets (party hat): JSB pg 170-175 based on Nehemiah 8-10
Dec 21 - John the Baptist (shell): JSB pg 200-203 based on Matthew 3
Dec 22 - Mary and the Angel (angel): JSB pg 176-176 based on Luke 1-2
Dec 23 - Journey to Bethlehem (scroll): JSB pg 180-181 based on Luke 1-2
Dec 24 - The Shepherds and Wise Men (three wise men): JSB pg 184-188 based on Luke 2
Dec 25 - Jesus is Born! (baby Jesus): JSB pg 182, 190, 192-198 based on Luke 2

Updated to Add: Sally Lloyd Jones (author of the Jesus Storybook Bible) now has her own Advent Guide and it is available for free here!!

12) I found another set of printable ornaments here.

13) Focus on the Family also has a free digital download Advent Calendar when you register on the Thriving Family website. It offers daily Scripture readings, parent-child activities and links to JellyTelly video clips, stories, crafts, Christmas carols, recipes, Adventures in Odyssey audio dramas and more! You can also access it online here or get an iPad download here. (Thanks Jessica, for letting me know about this one!)

14) How to Celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree is a free ebook compiled by Tara from FeelsLikeHome. Each day identifies the central character, the theme, the ornament, the key verse, a song to sing, a scripture reference to read and a prayer.

15) Advent chains are a simplified version of the Jesse Tree. SpellOutLoud has a free printable advent chain - each chain has a theme and scripture reference to look up. She also has a free printable name of Jesus advent chain, with a name of Jesus and scripture reference on each chain, as well as activity idea options.

16) My friend, Jessica, has created a pdf printable advent around 25 of the people from the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew's gospel.  You can print her text only pdf here, and the colour/graphics version here.

If I've missed any that you've found, please let me know!

There are also numerous books you can order to compliment your Jesse Tree, or even to do it entirely.

Jesse Tree Devotions: A Family Activity for Advent by Marilyn Breckenridge is a book containing the daily devotionals (Scripture reference, short devotional and prayer) as well as tree leaf shaped symbols that you can photocopy, colour and paste onto a large tree pullout (photocopy as well, or you'll have to reorder this every year).

The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Smith is a beautiful hardcover book. The devotions for each day have a picture (which you could photocopy to make ornaments), symbol suggestions, a memory verse, a selection of hymns you could sing, followed by two separate devotions for children and adults. The devotional for children has a short scripture reference, a devotional, questions and a prayer. The adult devotional has a longer scriptural passage reference, a short devotion and a prayer.

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean is a telling of the Jesse Tree symbols and biblical tales in storybook form.

Bartholomew's Passage, Jotham's Journey and Tabitha's Travels by Arnold Ytreeide are not Jesse Tree specific, but are fantastic family stories for Advent. The storybook characters travel throughout Israel and encounter the biblical characters, ending their travels in Bethlehem just in time for the Saviour's birth. He also has another book, Amon's Adventure, for Easter-time.

Phew - that's all I got! Whatever your choice, my prayer is that this helps you to put the focus on Christ this Christmas.


LaughingLady said...

Oh sure, NOW you tell me!! ;) So which one do you like best??

TammyIsBlessed said...

LOL! I don't know, after all that my mind is not working well. I was hoping somebody could tell me! :)

Jessica Lynette said...

Focus on the Family's Thrive magazine has a free one too... it's online here:
I am going to be reading it each day with the boys starting tomorrow (it officially started on Sunday I think tho)

Stacey said...

I'm totally going to bookmark this for next year! I bought the Truth in the Tinsel book and we've been having fun making the crafts together as a family :)

kristen said...

Thanks for linking me! I am hoping to expand it some before next year, for example take some pictures of my ornaments and explain how I made them, I wanted something I'd be happy to look at for years to come so I embroidered them. They are imperfect but colorful and pretty. :)

angathome said...

For those that are interested in getting started on a Jesse tree for advent this Christmas (without a lot of preparation) I have free printable black and white Jesse tree symbols to print and colour at my blog:


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