THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
The Christmas season is marked by the start of Advent, beginnng a period that culminates with the birth of Jesus. We celebrate the four weeks preceding Christmas with many special observances in order to prepare for the coming of Christ. What many refer to as “the holidays” are really the "holy days".
Adventus or Advent is a term used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. It is not known when the period of Advent first began but historians believe it came into existence around the year 480. The Catholic Church begins the season of Advent on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and we are called to "safeguard and spread the joy of waiting.” Advent begins a period that features several notable feast days on the liturgical calendar. The Christmas season as a whole stretches into early January with the Feast of the Epiphany.
The Advent Wreath's symbolism of the advent (coming) of Light into the world is clear. The gradual lighting of the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, combined with the liturgical colors of the candles (purple is the penitential color used during Advent and Lent; rose is a liturgical color used only on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent) help to symbolize not only our expectation and hope in Our Savior's first coming into the world, but also in his Second Coming as Judge at the end of the world.
The wreath itself is also symbolic. The circle of evergreen in which the candles are placed represents everlasting life. The seedpods, nuts and cones used to decorate the wreath are symbolic of resurrection, and fruits represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life.
Jesse Tree is a way of preparing for Advent by journeying through the stories on Jesus’s family tree. Each day of Advent, a Bible story is read about someone on Jesus’s family tree and an ornament hung symbolizing the story on your Jesse Tree. As you decorate your tree, you’ll see how God prepared for Jesus to be born through many generations.
The Jesse Tree tradition is rooted in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And Jesus is descended from the line of David. He is the branch God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree. Each symbol represents a story from within this family tree and a step toward the birth of Jesus.
Each week’s presentation is divided into segments referring to key figures in the genealogy.
Each segment begins with one child who introduces the character by describing key events in their life and relating those events to our lives today.
During this presentation, one of the younger children hangs the individual’s symbol on the tree.
Then all the children sing the verse about that individual from the Jesse Tree song, with the congregation joining in the chorus.
Each week, the chorus grows as new individuals are added. And when Advent IV arrives, we sing the whole story of the Jesse Tree:
Jesse Tree, Jesse Tree,
sign of God’s fidelity,
that he may love eternally—
the promise made to Noah,
and Abraham and Isaac,
and Jacob on a journey,
and Joseph and the tribes;
and as well to Moses,
and David who’d be king,
and Solomon, his son,
and Jonah in the sea;
to prophets like Isaiah,
and to Ruth, a woman wise,
and Daniel in the den,
and to John who baptized;
and last made to Mary,
and Joseph in a dream,
was Jesus, Son of God,
who came here to redeem;
all who waited for the coming of Emmanuel.
Noah, Abraham & Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah
Isaiah, Ruth, Daniel, John the Baptist
Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Wise Men