Jesse Trees were a 12th & 13th century depiction of the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Jesse, the father of David, the King who was promised to be the forebear of the Messiah. St. Paul connects Jesus to Isaiah’s prophecy that “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots… On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11: 1 & 10 – everything in between is wonderful & worth reading!)Today they are a way to travel through Advent, reading stories and making images of the whole history of God’s relationship to creation, ending with Jesus in Bethlehem.
It is customary to start with a dying branch and hang ornaments on the limbs, which then gets replaced with the full Christmas tree. It can also be a way to begin decorating your Christmas tree.
Or maybe it’s a smaller stand on the table, beside the Advent wreath.
One of my favorite Jesse Tree guides is here, with good directions and Bible references for the stories. Make your images as complex or simple as you like. You can also, of course, google “Jesse Tree” and come up with TONS of example and ideas. Whatever you dream up, it’s a lovely way to journey to Bethlehem.