General Christmas Lessons
Art or Storytelling Workshop: Jesse Tree
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:26-38
- Read the Scripture and Background Materials ahead of time
- Gather the Materials
- 2 large trees on posters or posterboard with velcrox dots placed on truck and into leaves where members of the family tree will be placed.
- Family tree cards (Me, Mom, Dad, Grandma (2), Grandpa (2), Great-Grandma (4), Great-Grandpa (4), Great-Great Grandma (8), Great-Great Grandpa (8), Jesse, Mary, Jesus written on them)
- 1 small tree (could be artificial, could be branches from a live tree)
- Glue sticks
- Paper punch(es)
- Pictures of Jesse tree symbols taken from www.eriercd.org,
- Pretty paper to glue onto back of symbols to hang on tree.
Advanced Preparation Requirements:
- Hang tree posters on wall at eye level. Hang large pictures of Jesse tree symbols on wall (the web site has small ornament-size pictures, as well as larger display-size pictures to download).
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction
Greet the children and introduce yourself and any helpers that you have. Introduce the art project.
Dig- Main Content and Reflection
Activity: Lead a discussion that goes something like this: Have you ever heard of a family tree? (allow responses) A family tree is a symbol that we use to show how our families connect.
The trunk of the tree represents us (put up “Me” card) on trunk. The branches are used to show how we “branch out” (put up Mother and Father cards). The branches grow and spread out as we connect our lives to our ancestors, or those that have gone before us. (Add grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents.)
In Isaiah 11:1 the Bible says, “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” This verse is used to trace the ‘family tree’ of Jesus. We can look at this tree like this:
(Put up Jesse card on root of tree, Mary on trunk, and Jesus in the “fruit” or leaves.) Matthew 1:1-17 traces the geneology of Jesus through the entire 14 generations. In Matthew 1:20 we see Joseph referred to as the son of David. (Read verse.) He wasn’t actually David’s son, but rather, several generations later, (like great-great-great-great-great, etc. grandson).Joseph will become Jesus’ earthly father when he is born in the manger at Bethlehem.
We already know that Advent means coming, preparing, waiting. During Advent we sometimes use the Jesse Tree to remind us of the stories of those people faithfully waiting for the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. After the fall in the garden, God put into action the plan to redeem the world by sending a Savior, or Messiah. In one way or another, all of the people throughout the Old Testament are expecting and waiting for His coming.
Review those people of faith that we have learned about in previous rotations. Use the pictures on the wall, and the sentence or sentences to remind/review. Ask the kids to look at each picture and try to remember the story. If possible, relate how each person(s) was waiting. They were all waiting for the Messiah that had been promised by God. Depending on the age of the group for each Sunday, all of the people/events show us that God keeps his promises. He was teaching that he will keep his promises and teaching about faith, preparing for the ultimate Promise – the Messiah. Because we have seen through the Bible that He keeps His promises, we believe, as they did, that God will keep His promise to send a Messiah. He sent Him at Christmas, and we believe in His promise that He will come again. ** It gets sort of complicated! It is OK if they just can remember the main idea about the story and that they were all being obedient to God and waiting for the Messiah that God had promised.
Dove: Reminds us of the Creation story.
Apple: Refers to Adam and Eve and the first sin in the Garden of Eden. After the fall God put into action the plan to redeem the world of sin by sending a Savior.
Ark: Reminds us of the flood. God promised never again to flood the whole earth. God
Stars: Reminds us of Abraham and the Promise that his descendants would be like the stars in heaven – too many to count.
Ram: Reminds of the offering to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was following what God told him to do.
Ladder: Jacob’s ladder. God told Jacob that his descendants would be as many as dust on the earth.
Bag of Wheat: Ruth meets Boaz while threshing wheat. She marries Boaz. They have a son Obed. Obed has a son, Jesse.
Jesse is the father of David. Joseph is a descendant of David.
Joseph will become Jesus’ earthly father.
Shepherd’s Crook: Reminds us of David, the shepherd.
Manger: Reminds us of the place where Jesus was born. The waiting is over – Jesus, the Messiah is here!
Candle: Reminds us of the Magi coming to worship the newborn Messiah.
Activity: After reviewing the pictures and who they represent, explain that the Jesse tree is decorated with ornaments that remind us of these people of faith who were waiting for the Messiah to come. Have each child choose one of the ornaments to cut out. Cut out one of the larger circles of decorated paper. Glue the ornament to the paper, punch a hole in the top, and tie a ribbon through the hole. Hang the ornament on the tree. Remind children to put their names on the back of their ornament so that they may take it home after Advent.
- Reminds us of the Creation story.
- Refers to Adam and Eve and the first sin in the Garden of Eden. After the fall God put into action the plan to redeem the world of sin by sending a Savior.
- Reminds us of the flood. God promised never again to flood the whole earth.
- Reminds us of Abraham and the Promise that his descendants would be like the stars in heaven – too many to count.
- Reminds of the offering to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was following what God told him to do.
- Jacob’s ladder. God told Jacob that his descendants would be as many as dust on the earth.
- Ruth meets Boaz while threshing wheat. She marries Boaz. They have a son Obed. Obed has a son, Jesse. Jesse is the father of David.
- Reminds us of David, the shepherd.
- Reminds us of the place where Jesus was born. The waiting is over – Jesus, the Messiah is here!
- Reminds us of the Magi coming to worship the newborn Messiah.
Close with a prayer and have the children assist in the cleanup before being dismissed.
The Jesse Tree by Raymond and George Anderson
Celebrating Seasons by Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Jude Dennis Fournier
Things to Make and Do for Advent & Christmas by Martha Bettis Gee
A lesson written by Rachel Haugland and Linda Norem
Bethel Lutheran Church, Story City, IA