We are two Orthodox Christian moms who wanted to simplify the Jesse Tree Advent readings for our families. We hope you will find the adapted readings and illustrations to be a simple and engaging way to prepare with your children for the birth of Christ. In addition to the readings and illustrations (which can also be used by your little ones as coloring pages), we hope to fill this space with other Advent-related materials such as songs and crafts that relate to the readings and feasts that fall within this season.
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“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Is 11:1)
In recent years, families have used the idea of the Jesse Tree to prepare during the Advent season for Christ’s birth, reading the Old Testament stories of those who heard God’s promises and waited for them to be fulfilled.
Here we offer 40 Scripture readings (one for each day of the Orthodox fast before Christmas) to help your family anticipate the coming of Christ. The readings are arranged mostly chronologically, telling the story of humankind from the creation of the first Adam and Eve to the birth of the Last Adam through the New Eve. We contemplate Christ’s ancestors according to the flesh (the people you will find in His genealogy), prefigurations of His virgin birth (Jacob’s ladder, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea), and prophecies of His incarnation within the Old Testament. Each day we can ask Christ how He is revealing Himself to us in the story.
In addition to reading the Scriptures, it’s become customary to craft an ornament for each day of one’s Advent preparations, and hang it on a “Jesse Tree.” We are sharing designs for 40 ornaments, which you can use however you like. (Print them out and color them, use them as a pattern for cut paper or felt, etc.) We kept the tree very simple for our little ones, drawing it on a brown paper grocery bag, cutting it out and taping it on the wall. Some people like to hang their ornaments on their actual Christmas tree. You can do whatever you think you’ll be able to manage for 40 days!
What if you’re not Orthodox and/or you don’t feel like doing this for 40 days? We have chosen 25 readings that would work for a Western Advent (December 1-25). Or to keep it very light, you can do this on the Sundays of your Advent preparation (six or seven for Orthodox, four or five for Western Christians.) The idea is to spend the weeks before Christmas preparing your heart to say “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light! This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!”