Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Jesse Tree

This time of the year, everyone is singing Christmas carols and decking the halls with the finest of greenery. Moods are lifted and smiles are seen across many faces. This season is also known as Advent. Recently, I have been blogging on different ADVENTures you can embark with your family this holiday season.

Along with the Advent wreath, you and your family may enjoy having a Jesse tree. The tree is a symbol taken from Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” The verse describes Jesus’ family tree. Your Jesse tree can be as simple as a tree branch in a bucket of sand or a small sized Christmas tree. In our home we have a table top Christmas tree that serves as our Jesse tree.

The purpose of the Jesse tree is to tell the story of God’s redemption plan for us and the world through 25 symbols or ornaments if you will, from the Old and New Testaments. The ornaments follow the heritage of Jesus from the beginning of creation. The ornaments are hung each day beginning on December 1st and ends on Christmas day.

The first ornament symbolizes the preexistence of God before all creation. The second and third ornaments show the beginning of sin, the need for Jesus and God’s redeeming promise for us. Ornaments 4-9 show the covenant with chosen people who would be examples blessed by God. Through the chosen people, Jesus would come to fulfill God’s covenant. Ornament 10, known as the symbol of Ruth, explains the salvation plan will be for everyone, not just the Jewish race. Ornaments 12-13, shows Jesus’ royal lineage of the Jewish nation. Numbers 13-19 are the prophecies foretelling Jesus’ arrival. Ornaments 20-21 symbolizes the presence of God with His people in exile, return, and in times of suffering. Ornaments 22-24 is the Christmas story and number 25 is all about worshiping Jesus.

The ornaments can be store bought or handmade. In the book, The Advent Jesse Tree by Dean Lambert, the author has Bible readings and devotionals for both children and adults. The Jesse Tree is a wonderful tool to make Christmas a time of celebrating Christ.

Symbols or Ornaments
for the Advent Jesse Tree

  1. a globe or a picture of the Earth
  2. an apple and a snake wrapped around it
  3. an ark with a rainbow
  4. a camel and a tent
  5. a lamb
  6. a ladder
  7. a colorful coat
  8. a tablet with ten numbers
  9. a cluster of grapes
  10. a sheaf of wheat
  11. a slingshot
  12. a scroll or Bible
  13. a stump with a fresh shoot or a green leaf
  14. a lion and a lamb
  15. a dove and a crown
  16. a lamb and the shepherd’s staff
  17. a cross
  18. a heart with writing on it
  19. a Bethlehem town silhouette with star
  20. a fiery furnace
  21. a brick wall
  22. a star
  23. a candle or light
  24. an angel
  25. a baby in a manger or a nativity scene

This will be the first time we have had a Jesse tree in our home. We are planning to have the daily devotions from Mr. Lambert’s book and the hanging of the ornament at breakfast. We will begin our meal with the devotion and the placement of the ornament will end our breakfast before we head out to school and work. This year we are planning to start our day with Christ at the breakfast table and enjoy dinner with Christ.

Come back tomorrow and I will show you one way to prevent the Christmas “let down.” Until then…..

God Bless…….

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The Fourth Week of Advent: Rejoice!

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Sing and Dance!  The 4th week of Advent is all about rejoicing!  Christmas is almost here and we should be celebrating!! Once again, the Advent activities are done at dinner time.

Fourth Sunday Home Ceremony:

1.  Light the first 3 candles

2.  Talk about who Matthew was.

3.  Discuss the history of the book of Matthew.

4.  Read Matthew 1:18-25 and discuss the passage read.

5.  Light the fourth candle…. it represents Angels and joy!

6.   Sing a hymn…. may I suggest:  Joy to the World

7.  End in prayer.

The 4th week’s activities:

Monday:

Scripture:  Hebrews 1:14, Luke 2:8-14, Romans 6:23

Items:  Angels

Discussion:  Do you know what an angel is?  A special messenger or servant.  God’s angels to where ever He sends them.  They bring special messages to people.  What happened with the Shepherds?  What was the message from God?  Why were the angels happy on Christmas night?”

Tuesday:

Scripture:  John 8:12 and Nehemiah 8:10

Activity:  Eating dinner in candle light.  Talk about how Jesus is the light of the world.  Blow out the candles—- that would be the world without Jesus.

Wednesday:

Scripture:  Luke 2:8-12

Items:  Christmas music

Dinner Discussion:  What does it mean to rejoice?  What do we feel like doing when we are so excited and happy and rejoicing?  Dancing of course!  After the dinner table is cleared…..everyone go get dressed up!  Throw in the CD and crank up the stereo!  Dance and rejoice!!!  Enjoy your Christmas Boogie!!

Thursday (Christmas Eve, 2009):

Scripture:  Matthew 1:18 – 2:12

Activity:  Lighting the Christ Candle (The center white Candle)

Discussion:  Christmas Eve is the time when we think about how Christ has changed the world.  Just from the birth of a baby, people around the globe have changed their lives and made Him the center of their lives.  The world changed that holy night.  And when we have received Him in our lives, we are never the same again.  Then read Luke 2:14 and talk about how we can live that verse.

Activity:  Go to a Candle Light Christmas Eve service at your local church.

Friday:  Christmas Day

Around our house we always celebrate Christmas by opening our gifts.  This year, after the gifts are opened we will have a birthday party just for Jesus!  We will have cake for breakfast!!  While enjoying our cake we will be talking about what Jesus needs from us as a gift to Him.  Is it our service?  Is it to tithe more?  Is it to volunteer?  Is it to tell someone about Him?  Is it to make donations?  Whatever, your family decides to do……make a promise and keep it!

Well, this will conclude this year’s Advent season.  Check back the Monday after Thanksgiving.  I will be talking about the Jesse Tree.  Then on Tuesday, I have another wonderful Christmas related idea!  See you then!!

May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving!  I have a lot to be thankful for….. and you are one reason I am so thankful!!

God Bless…….

*** resources:  Christmas Out of the Advent Box, by Benjamin R. Husted25 Days, 26 Ways, by Ace Collins ; and The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Lambert

The Third Week of Advent

So far, the Advent themes we have had for week one and two were planning and preparing.  The third week of Advent will be centered on sharing.  I truly love the third and fourth week of Advent.  Sharing and rejoicing are two of my favorite things about the Christmas season.

Third Sunday Home Ceremony:

The beauty of the home ceremony happens at dinner time.  We will gather around the table for the evening’s lighting of the candles and for a quick discussion about the upcoming week’s activities.

1.   Light the first candle

2.  Light the second candle

3.  Talk about Luke.

4.   Discuss the history of the Book of Luke.

5.  Read Luke 2:8-20

6.  Discuss the meaning of the passage just read.

7.  Light the third candle

8.  Sing a hymn…. may I suggest Away in the Manger

9.  End in prayer

Third Week Activities:

Can we just praise God for sharing Jesus with us?  God did not hold back on His gift for us.  He generously gave us the perfect Christmas gift.  By the time the 3rd week rolls around, Christmas is just around the corner.  We can be preoccupied with all the duties to make the holiday extra special.  So, again, it will be an honest effort to keep sight of the true reason for the Advent season.    Here’s what we will be discussing and learning this week:

Monday:

Scripture: 1 Kings 17: 8-16

Activity:  The passage is about a starving widow.  Take a moment to reflect on what “starving” people of today will be doing this Christmas.  How will they eat?  Where will they go?  Now, discuss what can we do to make a difference?  We will do one of the following:

1.  Go through our cabinets and donate items to our local food bank.

2.  Make a donation to a local soup kitchen.

3.  Do both.

Tuesday:

Scripture:  Luke 2:6, 7

Items:  Manger Animals and a pet’s feeding dish

Discuss:  How the animals shared the stable and their food bowl for Jesus to have a place to sleep and to keep safe.

Wednesday:

Matthew 25: 34-40

Activity:  Read the passage before dinner.  Explain that you will be filling a “to go box” for a neighbor.  Fill a take out box with the food from your table.  Leave enough for your family.  Eat.  Then take the food to your neighbor.

Thursday:

Scripture:  John 3:16

Item:  A Bow

Activity:  Explain how Jesus was a gift from God.  God loved us so much He gave us Jesus.  Now, go to your gifts under the tree.  Pray for the friends and family that will receive gifts of our love.

Friday:

Scripture:  Luke 2:4-7

Activity:  Read the scripture.  Then gather in the living room.  Have a picnic basket already packed with cheese, pita bread, grapes, nuts, apples, very simple foods.  Then share the poem:

On the Way to Bethlehem

by Ben Husted

Mary and Joseph went a long way

Then ended up sleeping on hay.

they must have traveled many a day;

I wonder, how long did they stay?

Tell me, what did they wear on their feet,

And what did they use for a seat?

On the road, tell me, what did they eat?

Was it bread, or was there meat?

No lamb, no turkey, no beef for them

On the long road to Bethlehem.

So tonight we eat just bread with them.

Some nuts, cheese and grapes on a stem.

After the reading of the poem.  Enjoy a picnic in your living room.

Saturday:

Scripture:  Proverbs 11:25

Item:  Play money and the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Activity:  In the movie, George Bailey was always talking about having a million dollars.  Yet, George never had the money because he was always generously helping out others.  He put people first.  God and Jesus put us first because they loved us.  Now watch that wonderful movie!

Have fun this week!!

God Bless……

*** resources:  Christmas Out of the Advent Box, by Benjamin R. Husted25 Days, 26 Ways, by Ace Collins ; and The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Lambert

The Second Week of Advent: Prepare

For the first week of Advent, we took a look at God’s plan. The second week of Advent center’s around preparation or preparing for Christmas.  The ADVENTure for the second week is about making things or recreating the preparations made by  God, Mary and Joseph.

Second Sunday Home Ceremony:

Once again, the ceremony is at dinner time.  We will gather around the table for the evening’s lighting of the candle and for a quick discussion about the upcoming week’s activities.

1.   Light the first candle

2.  Discuss who is Micah

3.  Talk about the Book of Micah.

4.   Read Micah 5:2-4

5.  Talk about the passage.  What did it mean??

6.  Light the second candle

6.  Sing a Hymn.  May I suggest, O, Little Town of Bethlehem

7.  End in Prayer

Second Week’s Activities:

Again, these activities are done around dinner time.  Some will need some preparing before time.  Others will be craft projects done as a family.

Monday:

Scripture:  Luke 1:26-38, 2:32  and John 8:12

Items:  Baby Items or a suit case

Activity:  When traveling or getting ready to have a baby, a family has to prepare for the event.  Think about how Mary and Joseph had to be prepared for becoming parents of Christ.  They were chosen for the pure hearts, their love, and devotion to God.  As a family play a round of, “We’re going on a trip to Bethlehem, and I am going to bring ______”  It is a memory game.  Each family member will add something to the list.  Each person must recount the list and then add a new item.

Tuesday:

Scripture:  Ruth 1:22, Matthew 2:1-6

Items:  graham crackers, cake frosting, candies,

Activity:  Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem’s history is rich and its setting began in the Book of Ruth.  It was also the home town for Kind David.  Bethlehem means “City of Bread.”  To celebrate the city of bread, we are going to make Gingerbread Houses……

Wednesday:

Scripture:  Galatians 4:4-7

Items:  Red construction paper, hole punch, string, glitter, stickers etc… you are going to make a heart ornament for your Christmas tree.

Activity:  While making the heart ornament, explain that God sent Jesus into the world and to be born in Bethlehem.  Because of Jesus, God can put His spirit, The Holy Spirit, into our hearts.  We are going to hang our hearts on the tree to remind us that we must ask Jesus into our hearts and always make Him feel welcome in our hearts.

Thursday:

Scripture:  Luke 2:4-7 or Micah 5:2

Item: a Manger….. we will set up our Manger.

Activity:  Show the manger or set yours up while discussing:  God had prepared the place for Jesus to be born a 1000 years before it really happened.  The town where David was born 1000 years before Jesus was Bethlehem.  Micah announced that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.  If God was preparing for this event for a 1000 years, why do you think it was in a stable and not a fancy castle?  Why did Jesus have to be born in a manger, humbly, and poor?

Friday:

Scripture:  Luke 2:19

Items:  Brown paper sacks, markers, glue, stickers, paint, etc….. you will be making wrapping paper.

Activity:  Mary said in Luke 2:19 that she was treasured up the events of the night into her heart.  Soon we will be wrapping our treasures to share with our family and friends.  Tonight we will make wrapping paper for each person’s gift.  Our paper will show how much God loves them and how much we love them.

Saturday:

Scripture:  1 Thessalonians 4:14-18

Items:  A trumpet

Discussion:  The second coming.  The first time Jesus came, it was a quiet event.  Not everyone knew.  His second coming will be announced with the sound of a trumpet and we will meet him in the air.  We need to be prepared for his second coming.  Keep the love of Jesus in our hearts and live for Him every day.

So, get ready for Christmas!  Prepare your celebration as if Jesus, Himself, was coming!  Enjoy the joy!!

God Bless……

*** resources:  Christmas Out of the Advent Box, by Benjamin R. Husted25 Days, 26 Ways, by Ace Collins ; and The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Lambert

The First Week of Advent

The first Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2009, is known as the Prophecy Candle which symbolizes God’s planning for Christ’s birth long before it actually happened.  This week’s Advent activities will have a “get organized” theme.

God planned the birth of Jesus.  He picked the family and tribe in which he would be born.  He arranged the timing of his birth, the place and eventually Jesus’ death.  God has already destined Jesus’ second coming…. or second Advent if you will…..God announced his plans long before it actually took place.  Just like the second coming….. He has already announced how the end will come……

So, here’s my pondering question…… Do you plan your Christmas?  Would it be a perfect Christmas without all the planning you do ahead of time?  Around my house, we are planning Christmas in like…..January!!  So this week let’s plan our hearts to be centered around Christ during our Advent activities!!

First Sunday Home Ceremony:

At our house, we like to have this Ceremony prior to dinner.  The table is set and we gather around the table.  Our ending prayer will bless the meal.

1.  Describe Isaiah:  Who was Isaiah?  What did he do?

2.  Talk about the Book of Isaiah.

3.  Read Isaiah 11:1-10

4.  Talk about the passage.  What did it mean??

5.  Light the first candle

6.  Sing a Hymn.  May I suggest, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

7.  End in Prayer

First Week’s Activities:

During the week, we try to do the activities just after dinner.  As the kids are clearing the table, I am gathering my notes and my activity objects.  Then we gather around the table to do our activity.

Monday:

Item:  A brick

Readings:  (We each get a scripture)  Nehemiah 1:3, 2:18, 6:15-16   Malachi 3:1  and Revelation 22:20

Discussion:  The brick represents the Wall of Jerusalem.  The wall was all around the city.  The wall was torn down and all of God’s people were scattered and taken as slaves into different lands.  In order for Jesus to be born, the Bible says that the people would return to Jerusalem.  And 400 years before Jesus’ birth, the rebuilding began.  When the wall was finished, the waiting for Jesus began.  It took many many years for the people to be ready for Jesus.  Are we ready for Jesus to come to us this Christmas??

Tuesday:

Scripture:  Proverbs 4:26

Items:  pencils and paper

Activity:  The Bible says that we should plan things carefully.  Just like God planned things very carefully for the first Christmas, we are going to plan for this Christmas.  We each have a piece of paper and a pencil.  When we are done, we are going to discuss the ideas we have written about Christmas and we will make a plan….. and stick with it!

Three things we did last year for Christmas that I’d like to do again.

Three new things I’d like to try for Christmas.

Wednesday:

Scripture:  Matthew 25

Item:  Dirty Clothes (really nasty dirty)

Activity:  Plan a special gift for someone outside of your ring of family and friends.  Perhaps, it is the lady who checks you out at your local grocery store.  Perhaps, it is for a family in a homeless shelter.  Perhaps, you can contact your local school and get information about a student who needs items.  Or focus on a shut in from your church……and I don’t think you have to shower them with gifts…. perhaps just a little reminder that they are loved.

Thursday:

Scripture:  3 John 13-14

Items:  Things to make a Christmas card.

Activity:  Make Christmas cards for family and friends who live far away.  John wrote to his friends that he could not be with them…. so we are sending God’s message of Christ to our family and friends far away.

Friday:

Scripture:  Luke 1:1-20

Item:  Envelope with card in it… the card will read:

What was it like for Zechariah to be unable to speak?  To help us understand what he felt, we are going to eat supper without speaking…. total silence.  There will be no talking.  His silence was broken only by prayer after his son John was born….. ours will be broken by prayer after we eat.

Activity:  Eat in silence.

Discussion after prayer:  retell Zechariah’s story.  Read verse 20.

Saturday:

Scripture:  Matthew 2:1-11

Activity:  Star gazing

Discussion:  Talk about the Magi seeing and following the star.  Talk about how God had to plan the star to shine.  It appeared at the right time and at the right place.  Take the family outside and really look at the stars.  Go inside and have hot chocolate!!  YUMMY!!

I  really hope you will join us in celebrating the Advent season.  You will be amazed how you and your family will make lasting memories that will last a life time!

God Bless…..

*** resources:  Christmas Out of the Advent Box, by Benjamin R. Husted25 Days, 26 Ways, by Ace Collins ; and The Advent Jesse Tree, by Dean Lambert