One of my favorite traditions growing up was having a Jesse Tree each December. Every night in December we would have a family devotion about a different part of God's plan for His people leading up to the birth of Christ. The concept of the Jesse Tree is based on Isaiah 11:1, and the prophecy that the Savior would come from "the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Over the years, we made or collected different ornaments to represent the events or people we learned about each night. The tree was a great visual and daily reminder of what we're really celebrating during the Advent season.
Last year we tried to do the Jesse Tree with Hannah, with mixed success. We were a little frustrated by the scarce notes we had, and we didn't take time in advance to really plan out which passages to read with which night, or how to tie them together. One challenge we have in Family Worship is how to communicate truth without maxing out attention spans and comprehension levels. A friend recently told me that they had started using children's Bibles for parts of family worship, and that seemed like a good idea, although I wouldn't want to totally supplant the use of God's Word, because I think Scripture can work in children's hearts even if it seems to be going over their heads.
I searched online for a Jesse Tree outline that was comprehensive, included Scripture references, and emphasized how the entire Bible points to Christ. I didn't find anything of the sort. There are a variety of sites with ideas, some have Scripture, some have touchy-feely stuff, none had ideas for young children tied in...so I decided to compile my own list.
In the posts below you will see a picture of the ornament we use, because I wanted to give you ideas for how you could use ornaments you already have, make them, or be on the lookout for them in advance. I have changed some of the days and ornaments from the list we used growing up, because I wanted to fill in some gaps. If you have other ideas for ornaments that could represent a concept or person, or if you find a great place to buy them, please leave a comment in that particular day's post. I definitely want to replace or improve on several of our ornaments, so I'm open to suggestion!
I listed Scripture references from the Old Testament, and from the New Testament where something came to mind. If you have ideas for other connections or passages, please leave a comment on that post! I'd love for this to be a more in-depth resource.
Finally, I went through the two children's Bibles we have to find sections that correspond with that day's devotion. The Beginner's Bible by Zondervan has a lot of short stories, but sometimes I find them a bit thin on the facts, and they don't really tie in together in most cases. The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm has broader sections, but what I really like about it is how each section points to Christ and traces God's redemptive plan. What I can see doing is making a point to read the children's Bible stories to my children during the day and talk about the concepts with them, so that when we have Family Worship with my husband later they will know what to expect when we read a short passage from the Bible. We'll see how it goes, we may try different things.
If you have a Jesse Tree tradition, I'd love to hear about it. If you blog about it, feel free to leave a link in the comments section of a particular day or this introduction post. I hope to update and flesh out these notes as I can, and I'd love to get your input.