An Advent Jesse Tree for the Congregation – Texts

Texts to be Read with Congregational Advent Jesse Tree Symbols:
(Scripture texts are taken from the New Revised Standard Version)

Sunday, Advent 1

Genesis 2: 1-3 (from Genesis 1 – 2:3;  Symbol:  Earth)
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.  And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
Genesis 3: 8-13 (from Genesis 3;  Symbol:  Apple)
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked;  and I hid myself.”  He said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”
Genesis 7: 1-5 (re: Genesis 6: 11-22;  Symbol: Ark)
Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.  Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth.  For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights;  and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”  And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.
Genesis 12: 1-2 (from Genesis 12: 1-4a;  Symbol:  Tent)
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
Genesis 21: 1-6 (from Genesis 21: 1-7;  Symbol:  Laughing Face)
The LORD dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as he had promised.  Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him.  Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him.  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.  Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me;  everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
Genesis 28: 12-16 (from Genesis 28: 10-17;   Symbol:  Ladder)
And Jacob dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven;  and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And the LORD stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac;  the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;  and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south;  and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.  Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land;  for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”  Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place – and I did not know it!”

Genesis 45: 1-5 (from Genesis 37, [39-44], 45:1 – 46:4;  Symbol:  Colourful Coat with Long Sleeves)

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.”  So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.  And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.  Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph.  Is my father still alive?  But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.  Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.”  And they came closer.  He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here;  for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Second Sunday in Advent

Exodus 3: 1-10 (from Exodus 1: 6-14, 3: 1-12;  Symbol:  Burning Bush)

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian;  he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush;  he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”  When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  Then he said, “Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters.  Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites , and the Jebusites.  The cry of the Israelites has now come to me;  I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.  So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Exodus 14:5-6, 21-23, 26-27, 15:20-21 (from Exodus 14: 5-29, 15: 20-21;  Symbol:  Tambourine)

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?”  So he has his chariot made ready, and took his army with him;…

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.  The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.  The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.  The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers…

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the seas, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.”  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth.  As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea…

Then the Prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand;  and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing.  And Miriam sang to them:  “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;  horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-8, 12-17 (from Exodus 19: 1-6a, 20: 1-17;  Symbol:  Stone Tablets)

Then God spoke all these words:  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;  you shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.  Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy…

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  You shall not murder.  You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Joshua 2:1-4a, 8-9, 11b-12a, 17-18a (from Joshua 2: 1-21;  Symbol:  Crimson Cord)

Then Joshua son of Hun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”  So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.  The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.”  Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.”  But the woman took the two men and hid them…

Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you…

The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.  Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the LORD that you in turn will deal kindly with my family.”…

The men said to her, “Our life for yours!  If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the LORD gives us the land.”…

The men said to her, “We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down…


Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-15 (from Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25;  Symbol:  Servant Figure)

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel;  and they presented themselves before God.  And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:  Long ago your ancestors – Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.  Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many…

“Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness;  put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living;  but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Ruth 1:22 – 2:1, 8-12 (from Ruth 1 – 2:13;  Symbol:  Barley Stalks)

So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab.  They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.  Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz…

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them.  I have ordered the young men not to bother you.  If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”  Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?”  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  May the LORD reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!”

1 Samuel 1: 1-3a, 9a, 10-11, 20 (from 1 Samuel 1: 1-20;   Symbol:  Praying Woman)

There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.  He had two wives;  the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah.  Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.  Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh,…

After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD…

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly.  She made this vow:  “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death.  He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”…

In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”

1 Samuel 3: 1, 19-21 (from 1 Samuel 3;   Symbol:  Lite Lamp)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli.  The word of the LORD was rare in those days;  visions were not widespread…

As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD.  The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Third Sunday in Advent

1 Samuel 16: 1, 11-13b (from 1 Samuel 16: 1-13b;   Symbol:  Olive Oil)

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul?  I have rejected him from being king over Israel.  Fill your horn with oil and set out;  I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”…

Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”  And he said, “There remains yet the youngest but he is keeping the sheep.”  And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him;  for we will not sit down until he comes here.”  He sent and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.  The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him;  for this is the one.”  Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.

1 Kings 11: 1-2, 4, 9-11 (from 1Kings 3:5-14, 10:23-25, 11:1-13;  Symbol:  Crown)

King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh:  Moabite, Amonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the Israelites, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you;  for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods”;  Solomon clung to these in love…

For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David…

Then the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods;  but he did not observe what the LORD commanded.  Therefore, the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statues that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant.

Jeremiah 1: 9-10 (from Jeremiah 1:1-10, 5:1-3, 9-19, 9:23-24;   Symbol:  Scroll)

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth;  and the LORD said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.  See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Lamentations 1: 16-17 (from Lamentations 1: 1-4, 16-17;   Symbol:  Tears/Crying Face)

For these things I weep;  my eyes flow with tears;  for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage;  my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.  Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her;  the LORD has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should become his foes;  Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.

Isaiah 40: 1-2 [9-11] (from Isaiah 40: 1-11;   Symbol:  Shepherd)

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

[Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings;  lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear;  say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”  See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him;  his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.  He will feed his flock like shepherd;  he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.]

Nehemiah 7:73 – 8:3a, 9-10 (from Nehemiah 7:73b – 8:12;  Symbol:  Book [of the Law])

When the seventh month came – the people of Israel being settled in their towns – all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate.  They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel.  Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.  This was on the first day of the seventh month.  He read from it facing the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand;  and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law…

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God;  do not mourn or weep”  For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.  Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD;  and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Jonah 1:17 – 2:2 (from Jonah;  Symbol:  Big Fish)

But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah;  and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.  Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called to the LORD out of my distress, and he answered me;  out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Luke 1: 11-17, [18-20] (from Luke 1: 5-20;  Symbol:  Angel)

Then there appeared to Zechariah an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified;  and fear overwhelmed him.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.  You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.  He must never drink wine or strong drink;  even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  With the spirit and the power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

[Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so?  For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”  The angel replied, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”]

Luke 1: 24-25 (from Luke 1: 21-25;  Symbol:  A Joyful Pregnant Older Woman)

After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion.  She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

Luke 1: 30-33 (from Luke 1: 26-38;  Symbol:  White Lily)

The angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1: 46-47, [48-55] (from Luke 1: 39-56;  Symbol:  Pregnant Woman with Arms Upraised)

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…

[for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;  for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strengh with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;  he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”]

Matthew 1: 18-21, 24a (from Matthew 1: 18-25;    Symbol:  Carpenter’s tools)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  …When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him…

OR  (for those wanting to continue the thread of the Old Testament):

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Micah 6: 6-8 (Symbol:  Heart)

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  He has told you, O mortal, what is good;  and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Daniel 6: 19-23 (Symbol:  Lion)

Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions.  When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?”  Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him;  and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.”  Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den.  So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Malachi 3: 1-4 (Symbol:  Fire)

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.  The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;  he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

Isaiah 42: 1-3 (Symbol:  Scales of Justice)

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;  I have put my spirit upon him;  he will bring forth justice to the nations.  He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;  a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;  he will faithfully bring forth justice.

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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  
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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A Short History of the Advent Jesse Tree

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of council and might,
the spririt of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
~ Isaiah 11: 1-2

We do not have a Christmas tree as part of our Advent or Christmas celebrations.  This was a conscious choice when we were blessed to be able to adopt our son.  We decided instead to have an Advent Jesse Tree.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of a family tree that depicts our biological family’s relationships in the shape of a tree, often pictured with the trunk, branches and leaves of a real tree.  Most of us may not know that this way of depicting our genealogy comes from the Jesse Tree.

Who was Jesse? Jesse was the father of King David, who lived about a thousand years before Jesus was born (see I Samuel 16: 1-13).  David was the greatest and most faithful king in Israel’s monarchy, yet he too was all too human and missed the mark.  As time passed and after successive failures, Israel began to long for the true Messiah, the one that could lead them in fulfilling God’s true intentions.  It is this longing we see reflected in the prophecy from Isaiah 11 above, which tells of this Messiah who will come from the line of David. Christians understand Jesus to be that long awaited Messiah who is the redemption of all Creation, although in quite unexpected ways.

Two of the four gospels, Matthew and Luke, contain genealogies for Jesus.  It was the proclamation of the early church that Jesus was this long awaited Messiah and so it was important to show his biological heritage as rooted in the line of King David (through Mary) as well as his spiritual heritage as connected with the great figures of the faithful from Israel’s history.

The interpretation of Mary as the shoot from the stump of Jesse and Christ as the branch from the Isaiah 11 passage is mentioned as early as the beginning of the third century (200 A.D.) by Tertullian (a priest and writer).  It is not until about 1000 A.D., however, that the image of the Jesse Tree became prominent in artwork.  For especially the next two hundred years the image of the Jesse Tree blossomed in stonework, manuscript illustrations, paintings and stain glass windows.  Typically the image of Jesse, lying down, is placed at the bottom, with a tree growing from his loins.  Along the main trunk of the tree are pictured some of the kings that followed, then Mary and finally Jesus at the top.  There are many variations, some simple and some very elaborate.  The Lancet Window in the Chartres Cathedral in France is a classic example while the one found on the ceiling of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Germany has over a hundred figures.

The Advent Jesse Tree is a more recent variation on the theme.  We live in times and a culture, at least in North America, that does not stress genealogical connections as much as was done in the past.  We also live in times when the “old, old story” is not as well known.  The Advent Jesse Tree shifts the emphasis from genealogy to narrative.  The story of Christ’s birth is connected with all the stories of the Old Testament that have come before it.  The grand sweep of the great narrative of what God has been up to is re-told through story and symbol, beginning with Creation in Genesis and culminating in the birth of Christ.

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Ordinary Time – Proper 16 – Living Together in Unity

Psalm 133
133:1 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
133:2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.
133:3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

As someone who has worked inside and outside the Church at various points in my life, I reasonate with the Psalm for Ordinary Time – Proper 16.  Whether I enjoyed working with a congregation or on some information technology project, the most important factor is whether people know how to get along. Indeed, if I were to give an address to highschool students, I would give them three pieces of advice. First, get along with other people. Second, be reliable. Third, make the lives of people you work with more enjoyable.

I could would rather clean stalls in a cattle feed lot with enjoyable people than be doing wonderful work with a miserable legion of grumpy grumps.  I don’t know anyone who has reached 50 years who would not say Amen to this little observation about life.

It is basic psychology, I guess, that we’d prefer to be with people whom we find agreeable, however life is never so simple.  The suffering that families can inflict on each other can be deep and scaring. The suffering that Church families inflict on each other is often baffling. Sometimes just getting along can be a real struggle given all our differences, and of course the lingering effects of Sin in our lives.

Yet, there have been times when I look back and see times when the Kingdom of God breaks through our human fraility and for a moment I understand what the Psalmist is getting at. As a Methodist, the Church pot luck is an unofficial sacrament. I sometimes say this to be glib, but this time I really mean it.  I have experienced sacramental movements when seeing my brothers and sisters in faith, I recognize a deep kindred spirit at work admid us. It is the Holy Spirit of course or the presence of Jesus Christ, or the care of our Heavenly father; or all three.  I imagine the life of the Trinity is best described as pleasant and very good. A deep abiding presence of knowing and being known.

The oil is a symbol of abundant generousity which escapes North American culture, yet back to pot luck imagery. I recall serving one Church with many Taiwanese kindred and seeing the table filled with so many goodies that none of us could possible eat all the food. As an aside, the Tawainese will certainly be cooking at the heavenly banquet!  It was a glimpse at the abundance of generous sharing that comes when the Kingdom of God comes near.

The dew is of course the water than brings forth life to the earth. I wonder why the Psalmist did not use rain imagry since it would be more abundant, however perhaps it is to remind us that even amid the desert of life’s experiences, when we are alone, or poor, or lacking in some way, that the good and pleasant power of God at work in right Christian community is enough. I recall one co-worker who had no savings, who’s husband had chosen adultery over his marriage, and who had a child to support.  She was in another Church, but I asked, “Do you have Church friends who can help?”  She smiled and said, “Yes, I do.”  She had nothing from a material perspective but those friends will keep her nourished through this desert period of life.

I’ve not served many congregations, and currently am not serving any right now. Being away from ministry has a blessing in that I can reflect on what was really important. Seeking doctrinal truth is an essential task of the Church. Serving the needs of the community is also essential. Making sure the bills are paid, the plumbing works, and the fire chief won’t shut you down are really important. Yet, without foster pleasant and very good kindred relationship within our communities, something is deeply wrong.  Paul’s clanging cymbal comes to mind.

It is certainly pleasant and very good when I’ve enountered Christians, though imperfect, through the power of God considered their Church friends to be true kindred. Not just the people they know or their clic, but were a community where they truly were trying to know one another and love one another. Communities where the steadfast and generous love of God was embraced and being poured out upon the new, the struggling, and even the outcast. It is when we encounter that kind of kindrid spirit, that we glimpse what God has in store for us in the everlasting life of the resurrection.

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This is my second blog

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Christmas Candle Lighting, 2010

Christmas Eve/Day

Friday, Dec. 24th (in the evening) or Saturday, Dec. 25th, 2010


Candle Lighting: Light one large white candle.


Question: Why do we light this candle?

Response: We light this candle because the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.


Scripture: Read John 1: 1-13



Thank You for the gift of Your Son,

full of grace and truth

and that we have seen his glory and light.

Thank You that we may be born of You,

through Christ, with Christ and in Christ.   Amen.


Singing: Sing one or more of your favourite Christmas hymns.  Some possibilities:

Joy to the World,  (originally an Easter hymn)  Isaac Watts, 1719

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,  Charles Wesley, 1739

Sing till Sundown, Eileen Spinelli, 1988



And the Word became flesh and lived among us,

and we have seen his glory,

the glory as of a father’s only son,

full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14

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Advent Candle Lighting, Year A, 2010, Advent 4

Advent 4:  The Obedience of Faith*

Sunday, December 19th, 2010


Candle Lighting:

Light again the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!,” the second blue candle, saying:  “Abound in hope!,” the third blue candle, saying:  “Celebrate!” .

Light the fourth blue candle.


Question: Why do we light this candle?

Response: We light this candle to remember the courage it takes to obey God.


Scripture: Read Matthew 1: 18-25




call us to do daring things,

to be brave,

to trust and obey.

We are thankful that Joseph

answered Your call so faithfully.

Help us to do the same

that Your plan for new life

can be born

for the sake of all the world.  Amen.


Singing: Sing a hymn together.  Following are some possibilities:

Wait for the Lord, Jacques Berthier   1984

All Earth is Waiting, Catalonian, Alberto Taule   1972

God of All Places, David Haas   1988


Proclamation: Grace to you and peace from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.    ~Romans 1:7b


Through the Week:

– light the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!,” the second blue candle, saying:  “Abound in hope!,” the third blue candle, saying:  Celebrate!” and the fourth blue candle, saying:  “Trust in God!”

– wonder about how God is calling the church to trust and obey


*  this title is taken from one of the Revised Common Lectionary readings for this day:  Romans 1: 1-7

NOTE: Please go to the Christmas section for the Christmas candle lighting liturgy for this year.

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Advent Candle Lighting, Year A, 2010, Advent 3

Advent 3:    Celebrate!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Candle Lighting: Light again the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!” and the second blue candle, saying: “Abound in hope!”.

Light a third blue candle.


Question: Why do we light this candle?

Response: We light this candle to rejoice in what God has done and is doing for the sake of the world God so loves.


Scripture: Read Matthew 11: 2-6


Prayer: You, Jesus bring heaven with You.

In You heaven kisses us and we are made whole:

sight comes to the blind,

hearing comes to the deaf,

healing comes to the sick,

life comes to the dead,

good news comes to the poor.

We praise You

and offer our lives to serve Your heavenly mission.    Amen.


Singing: Sing a hymn together. Following are some possibilities:

People, Look East, Eleanor Farjeon, 1928

Joy Shall Come, Israeli trad., music arr. Darryl Nixon   1987

Hark the Glad Sound, Philip Doddridge    1738, alt.



The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,

the desert shall rejoice and blossom,

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,

and rejoice with joy and singing.           ~ Isaiah 35: 1-2a



Through the Week:

At supper each evening, light the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!” and the second blue candle, saying: “Abound in hope” and the third blue candle, saying:  “Celebrate!”

Wonder about the places in the world, in our church, in our families, where we see heaven breaking out;  celebrate this and proclaim it to others

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Advent Candle Lighting, Year A, 2010, Advent 2

Advent 2:   Longing for Judgment

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Candle Lighting: Light again the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!”

Light a second blue candle.


Question: Why do we light this candle?

Response: We light this candle to remember what it is we are waiting and longing for.


Scripture: Read Isaiah 11: 1-10


Prayer: In You, Jesus

we see and know

the merciful judge we crave

that all might be well

with Creation –

more than well.

Come again soon

and judge us all.          Amen.


Singing: Sing a hymn together.  Following are some possibilities:

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,   German, 15th century

Prepare the Way of the Lord, Isaiah 40:3 adapt. Michael Burkhardt, 1990

Hail to God’s Own Anointed, James Montgomery   1821, alt.


Proclamation: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13]




Through the Week:

– At supper each evening, light the first blue candle, saying:  “Keep awake!” and the second blue candle, saying: “Abound in hope!”

– Wonder about where the places are in our world, our church, and our own hearts that long for Jesus’ merciful judgment

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Advent Candle Lighting, Year A, 2010, Introduction and Advent 1


A liturgy for use at home to begin the adventure of what God is up to in Christ.


Advent, which is from the Latin ‘adventus’, means ‘coming’.  We wait in Advent for the coming of God’s Messiah, our Savior, Christ Jesus.  We wait upon God, remembering that the root word for “wait” in both Hebrew and Latin also means “hope”.  Advent is the first season of the cycle that is the Christian year.

This liturgy is offered as a gift and a guide for marking Advent in your home.  You will need four blue candles and one large, white Christ candle.  These can be placed in a wreath, a log or in five individual candle holders.

You might do the Advent candle lighting after lunch or supper each Sunday once everyone has had something to eat.  Folks who are single might consider inviting others to join them for supper and the candle lighting. Different people, including children, could participate in the  candle lighting, question asking and response, reading of the scripture text, saying of the prayer and the proclamation. If at all possible, it is a child who should ask the question provided each week.

– Janice Love



Advent 1: Keep Awake!

Sunday, November 28th, 2010; Year A


Candle Lighting: Light one blue candle.

Question: Why do we light this candle?

Response: We light this candle to remember to keep awake for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Scripture: Read Matthew 24: 42-44*


Prayer: Jesus,

You are coming

to us and to the world.

We are waiting for You…

the land is waiting for You,

the ocean is waiting for You,

the plants and animals are waiting for You,

the poor are waiting for You,

the sick are waiting for You,

Keep us awake in our watching and waiting.

Come to us all soon.                Amen.


Singing: Sing a hymn together.  Following are some possibilities:

Wait for the Lord, Jacques Berthier 1984

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, Charles Wesley   1744

O Come, O Come Emmanuel,    ca. 9th century, trans. John Neale   1851


Proclamation: Now is the time to wake from sleep.  Our Lord is coming.



Through the Week:

light this blue candle at supper each evening, saying, “Keep awake!”

– wonder about where we are asleep in our discipleship

– pray that Jesus returns soon


* this reading is chosen from one of the Revised Common Lectionary readings for this day (Matthew 24: 36-44)

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