What part of the Christmas story speaks the most to you?
I like the way Jesus came the most. In the stillness and darkness of night. Inside a lowly stable.
The long awaited Saviour was born as a helpless babe.
Born into a humble family.
First greeted by the animals and shepherds keeping their flocks nearby.
There was no show, although Jesus most rightfully is worthy of one.
Our loving Creator God initiated the restoration of the sinful world to Himself through a relationship from the very beginning.
A mother and father, a baby, a silent night, an intimate gathering all to reflect the heart of an intimate Father.
The world likes to take December and fill it with material things and busyness. Before we know it, we believers can also be distracted, filling our schedules and homes with bustling Christmas activity, and yet miss the purpose.
But in the midst of the busy, Jesus is calling each of our names.
Just as He revealed Himself to the shepherds long ago, He is calling us. He invites each of us to run to the manger to see the thing which the Lord has fulfilled (Luke 2: 15).
This December, will I be running with great anticipation to worship the Promised One, the long awaited Saviour? Will I be leading my children to worship also?
My husband and I asked ourselves these questions for the first time eight years ago when our oldest child was just beginning to grasp the excitement and joy of the season.
We both agreed that Christmas was about a celebration of Jesus and His birth.
But we were not sure how to do it.
One thing was for sure, we saw an opportunity to take a wonderfully anticipated time of year in our children's eyes and share the true meaning behind it all.
That's when we discovered the Jesse Tree. We fell in love with the idea but we could not have imagined the wonderful work God was going to do in our own family and for countless others through the Jesse Tree.
The Jesse Tree is a Christmas family tradition that stems from the prophecy in Isaiah 11: 1-3.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
Jesse was King David's father, and the branch that would come up through the line of David and change everything, was Jesus.
The Jesse Tree is a tool for telling the story of God’s plan from the beginning of time to redeem His people by sending a Saviour.
It follows the lineage of Christ’s family and key people in the Old Testament that God uses to tell His story of redemption from Creation through Christ’s birth. It is a countdown daily to Christmas with the telling of a story, and an ornament that acts as a symbol and visual reminder of the story.
Children relate so much to the power of narrative—a story. Telling them the story of His great love would be the perfect way to celebrate Christmas.
My husband and I created a Jesse Tree devotional book for children that tells the story from the very beginning of why Jesus had to come and how wonderful it is for each of us that God kept His promise.
Along with writing the devotional, we invited other families to all get together for an ornament exchange.
Each family in the exchange made 24 of the same ornaments and then met together to "swap." We each came away with a unique, special, hand-made set of Jesse Tree ornaments. This proved to be so much fun, that we just kept on doing it.
Thus, the Jesse Tree Project was born.
This will be our family's eighth year telling the story of Jesus through the Jesse Tree! God has brought hundreds of other families to join us in this meaningful tradition of reading through God's Word the month of December and hanging ornaments on our trees that remind us of God's faithfulness.
The Jesse Tree has become so much more than a seasonal tradition for us. It was what gave us confidence that we could read God's Word not only in December but make it a part of our home year round. The heroes of the faith that we read about through the Jesse Tree have become our friends and a great source of encouragement in our own journey of the faith and our children's as well.
We hear the same sort of praise from other families who have chosen to make the Jesse Tree a part of their holiday traditions. It's not our devotional or the cute ornaments that do that, but the opening of God's Word together as a family that has transformed hearts and homes. We are so humbled to be a part of what He is doing.
So this Christmas, we would love to invite you to run and sit at the feet of the One who is calling you by name.
To draw near and worship the Saviour who came for you and your children.
To find rest through the relationship Christ offers.
Come experience the Jesse Tree and see what the Lord has fulfilled!
Jacki is a fellow parent who loves finding purposeful moments throughout the day to lead her children to Jesus. As a recovering "do-er," Jacki is passionate about living surrendered to the truth of who she is in Christ, and encourages others to live the same. She is the creator of the Jesse Tree Project, an Advent experience for families seeking the true meaning of Christmas. She, and her husband Richard, with their two children, four pets, and an uncertain amount of daily chaos currently reside in Katy, Texas where there never fails to be daily opportunities to rely on the Lord. You can read more about Jacki and her ministry at jessetreeproject.com.
For more articles from Growing Faith, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.
To hear about the latest books and resources from Youthworks Media, subscribe here.