The Jesse Tree is a sweet Advent tradition that can be as creative or as straightforward as you please. Essentially, it is a potted plant or a smaller christmas tree decorated with symbols of all those who went before and prepared the way, or created the story, that lead to Christ.
Each day we hang an ornament that can be bought or hand made, that represents one of the many seminal characters of scripture. Adam and Eve have an apple, Jacob has a little ladder, Noah has a rainbow, and so on.
If you like Ann Voskamp, she has a book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift,that is great for older kids. I bought my ornaments on Etsy, and I know a few other friends who have done the same with a lot of success.
After proofreading this post, I realize that what follows is a free, indulgent and unnecessary foray into Theology aka:
Why Jesse Tree
When children come to scripture, especially as they begin to interpret the Gospel, you want to give them an understanding of the progressive, redemptive movement in scripture. This is a gift that will keep giving as they grow and mature. It will feed their faith for the rest of their life. The Jesse Tree travels from Adam and Eve all the way to Jesus, which gives our children, in quick review, a sense of the grand arc of scripture.
The static hermeneutic lacks power and relevance, the secular hermeneutic lacks direction. But the Jesse Tree teaches our children (subtly, subtly) to see that God has always been moving toward liberation, redemption, and the victory of love.
By giving your children an implicit connection to the redemptive-movement hermeneutic, they can see that Scripture is relevant and powerful to change social structures – that it bridges ancient and modern cultures with ease, wonder, and beauty.
….they will also have less trouble interpreting those biblical narratives regarding slavery, women, and homosexuals that people with the secular and static hermeneutics are always flushing down the toilet….but thats another issue for another day….