An Advent Jesse Tree for the Congregation, 2011

This is an excellent way to do a quick review with the congregation of the grand narrative of what God has been up to from Creation to the birth of Christ through the season of Advent.  It is also a terrific way of involving all the generations, and families and single folk as we come together to re-tell our story.

A congregational Advent Jesse Tree is decorated on each of the four Sundays in Advent.  This means there will be up to seven symbols placed on the tree each Sunday.  This can be done before the start of the formal worship service or incorporated into the worship service itself.

The tree could be set up as part of a congregational Christian New Year’s party on the evening before the first Sunday in Advent.  If this does not happen, be sure to have the tree set up for the first Sunday in Advent (with lights!) and use the Isaiah 11: 1-2 passage when introducing this practice.

The first seven symbols will need to be ready for the first Sunday in Advent.  You can invite people to participate as families or individuals a few weeks ahead of time.  I would encourage folks to simply be assigned a story and symbol (no picking or choosing, all of these stories are important ones!).

Give people the entire text as listed in An Advent Jesse Tree for at Home and highlight for them the text listed here which is the one they will read when they present their symbol (please feel free to print these texts out).

Let folks know what symbol goes with their story. Encourage them to make their own symbols if possible out of whatever materials they deem appropriate (a chance for creativity!).

Date Persons/Event Text Symbol
Sunday, Advent 1 Creation Genesis 2: 1-3  
Earth
Adam & Eve   Genesis 3: 8-13 Apple
Noah and Flood Genesis 7: 1-5 Ark
Abraham & Sarah Genesis 12: 1-2 Tent
Issac Genesis 21: 1-6 Laughing Face
Jacob Genesis 28: 12-16 Ladder
Joseph Genesis 45: 1-5 Colourful Coat
Sunday, Advent 2 Moses Exodus 3: 1-10 Burning Bush
The Exodus Exodus 14: 5-6, 21-23, 26-27, 15:20-21 Tambourine
Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-4, 7-8, 12-17 Stone Tablets
Rahab* Joshua 2: 1-4a, 8-9, 11b-12a, 17-18a Red Cord
Ruth Ruth 1:22 – 2:1, 8-12 Barley Stalks
Hannah 1 Samuel 1: 1-3a, 9a, 10-11, 20 Praying Woman
Samuel 1 Samuel 3: 1, 19-21 Lite Lamp
Sunday, Advent 3 David
1 Samuel 16: 1, 11-13b
Olive Oil
Solomon 1 Kings 11: 1-2, 4, 9-11 Crown
Jeremiah and The Exile Jeremiah 1: 9-10 Scroll
Lamentations Lamentations 1: 16-17  Tears/Crying Face
Isaiah & New Hope Isaiah 40: 1-2 [9-11]  Shepherd
Return from Exile Nehemiah 7:73 – 8:3a, 9-10 Book (of the Law)
Jonah Jonah 1:17 – 2:2 Big Fish
Sunday, Advent 4* Zechariah  Luke 1: 11-17, [18-20]   Angel
Elizabeth Luke 1: 24-25 Joyful Older Pregnant Woman
Mary Luke 1: 30-33  White Lily
Magnificat Luke 1: 46-47 [48-55] Pregnant Woman with arms upraised
Joseph Matthew 1: 18-25 Carpenter’s tools

* Another possibility here is Joshua with the reading as Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25 and the symbol as a servant figure.  I have chosen Rahab as she is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy (Matthew 1:5)

** Since some of these texts may be touched on in worship over Advent, there is the option to continue with stories from the Old Testament for the last five days of Advent this year (the sixth day is the 24th in the evening of which most Christians celebrate the arrival of “Christ’s Mass”).  If choosing this option, some stories that could be used include:

Micah 6: 6-8,  Daniel 6: 19-23, Malachi 3: 1-4 (this is an optional reading for Advent 2, Year C), and Isaiah 42: 1-3
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