|Nehemiah's stone wall surrounding Jerusalem|
|The Ten Commandments|
A Jesse Tree finds its root (heh, heh) in the verse Isaiah 11:1, "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." Yes, the verse is taken out of context; and yes, it really has nothing to do with evergreen trees, but hey, that is what proof texts are all about. Basically, the idea is that you decorate your tree with ornaments and items that relate to people/places/events in the Bible. Therefore, when you talk with your children about these ornaments or friends ask questions, the focus of the message is on God and His love and plan for mankind.
As someone who is always trying to find ways to make my faith incorporate with my life, this was very appealing.
I relegated all of our traditional family ornaments to decorating the evergreen boughs that trim our windows and banister so that they are still useful and set to work focusing on the tree-as-centerpiece idea.
I found several lists online and in books about what would be acceptable ornaments to represent certain stories, and used them as a guide. Although I have bought many items (sheep, goats, donkey, rooster, clay pot, glass frog, angels, stars, a fish, dove, palm tree, camel, ark, rainbow, scarlet rope, lion, pitcher, shell, bottle of tears) I have had to get a little creative with making others. The wall of stones and the clay tablets pictured above were two things I made out of kid's clay.
Here is a Torah scroll (made of toothpicks, beads and cloth) with Hebrew writing depicting Isaiah 11:1.
And this is supposedly Joseph's coat of many colors.
As you can see none of them are professionally made, but at least they're MADE. It has taken me nine years to find/create thirty ornaments. Some have been fairly easy (like gluing together some cake-stand pillars to make to columns of Solomon's temple, or the small rubber snake that I tied to a fake apple). But there are others that I just haven't gotten around to finding: a globe, a Rook from a chess set (to represent Habakkuk's watchtower), a bundle of grain, trumpet, a crown, a harp, music notes, grapes, a crimson robe, a ladder.
And where on earth am I going to find a miniature set of fire tongs?!