I think it was five years ago now that I started doing a Jesse Tree with my sons. Each year we’ve done it a little differently. This year I gathered some branches my goats had stripped bare of all leaves, stuck them in a large vase and put some lights on them. In years past we’ve pulled an ornament out for each day and placed them on the tree after that day’s reading. But this year I decided to put all the ornaments on the tree from the start and focus more on the reading for each day. Up until this year we’ve used Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree readings. But this year, I decided to the family readings from the Reformed Church of America website. They’re short and to the point (which my highly distracted 11 and 9 year need right now) and they set our minds each day on the hope of Christmas.
The Jesse Tree comes from reference to, “the Root of Jesse” in Isaiah 11.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Isaiah 11:1-5
One of the reasons I love doing a Jesse Tree at Christmas with it’s dead branches as opposed to the pretty green fir tree is because it reminds me that my God is the God who makes promises. And keeps them. When I look back over history through the Jesse Tree readings I see that for thousands of year God has been showing himself faithful. He will do what he says he will do. And so it causes me to look forward to the promise of His return.
And all those dead branches remind me that that’s me, without Him. And that He did the miracle. He has born me again to a living hope. Out of my deadness He has caused life to come. Just as out of as-good-as-dead Abraham and Sarah, Isaac was born. And just as out of dead Israel, Christ was born. In my deadness God has birthed new life in me. His Holy Spirit is my deposit, guaranteeing one day, I will be completely new and alive with eternal life.
This is my God. He makes promises. He doesn’t lie. He keeps them, no matter how long has gone by and no matter how impossible things may seem. He will do it.