A blessed first Sunday of Advent to you!
This ragamuffin felt ambitious this year. For the first time ever, I decided to create a Jesse Tree! What is a Jesse Tree some of you may ask? A Jesse Tree is like a family tree, only it traces the lineage of Jesus. So, it's our faith family tree. And here's another beautiful thing. Not only does it trace the lineage of Christ, it's symbols tell the story of salvation.
So, after Mass I was excited about starting. Of course, my zeal did not include the winter storm we had, which means my husband trudged outside in the rain to get branches for me, bless his heart, and I really mean that. The branches reflect this passage from Isaiah 11:1, "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots."
You don't have to literally have a stump, but some people make a representation of one. I put my branches in a vase to contain them. They're kinda coming out of a circle of styrofoam instead of a stump, but alas, God is not picky about theses things. So, here is our Advent altar in the kitchen, complete with Jesse tree.
Yeah, it's ragamuffin. What did you expect? You can see we love icons around here. In the front is my itty bitty Advent wreath. I didn't know it was tiny when I ordered it. It looked bigger on the net. But it will have to do, right? Behind it is the Jesse tree. I covered the vase with a purple t-shirt I had. Purple is the liturgical color for Advent season. We are on a non-existent (in a bad way) budget here. I had to use, um, "found objects." At the top is our Nativity Icon, and on the side is The Blessed Virgin and Christ child, Saint Nicholas, and Saint Gabriel, the Archangel of the Annunciation. It's a very simple altar, but it made me so happy to create it.
The first ornament begins the story of God and us. It represents creation. Here it is:
You can see we are still on our collage kick. I took the earth from an internet image. The hands you may recognize as being from Michaelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The words are from St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, "Praise for the earth, who makes life to grow." It is topped by a piece of acetate I found covering a report, and I used glitter glue to stick it on, and the ribbon left from Abbie's birthday balloon. Fun!
We gathered after dinner, and blessed the Advent wreath, remembering Immanuel, hope of all nations. We lit the "hope" candle, did a short devotional, and prayed the Jesse Tree Litany:
“God’s own breath gave life to our first ancestors, and God’s own breath fills us. We were loved into being, just as they were. We are called and chosen, just as they were. For thousands of years there has been a people who have been in covenant with God, and now we are those people. It is our covenant. We trust God to be with us always, and we promise God to be faithful. We wait, as our ancestors in faith waited, for the coming of the Lord. Together let us remember all of those people who went before us, witnessing to the one true God—a people who knew how to wait.”
Respond, “Come, Lord Jesus,” after each sentence.
“Adam and Eve waited outside the gates of Paradise, and we wait, too. Come, Lord Jesus.
“Noah waited and waited for the rains to stop, and we wait, too.
“Abraham and Sarah waited and waited for their promised baby, and we wait, too.
“Jacob waited seven long years for his promised bride, and we wait, too.
“Joseph waited and waited in a country far from home, and we wait, too.
“Moses waited for forty years in the desert, and we wait, too.
“Ruth waited faithfully at the side of her mother-in-law, and we wait, too.
“Jesse waited for one of his sons to be chosen, and we wait, too.
“David waited for just the right time to fling the stone, and we wait, too.
“Solomon waited and waited for the temple to be built, and we wait, too.
“Isaiah and Micah waited and waited for people to listen, and we wait, too.
“Jonah waited three days in the belly of a whale, and we wait, too.
“Joseph waited to find a comfortable place for Mary, and we wait, too.
“Mary waited nine long months for the birth of her baby, and we wait, too.”
Closing Prayer: The Our Father
That's it. It was very beautiful, though it probably meant a lot more to me than my kids. Still. You just go forward. What else can you do? Each night we'll do another ornament, say the Litany, and on Sunday's do another Advent devotional. Again, ambitious for me, but I'm so gonna try.
Since we're on the subject of Advent, please take a peek at my friend Kristine's Advent Art Exhibit here. She actually used one of my blog entries, Incarnation, in the exhibit. How's that for multimedia, and she's an amazing artist.
Keep watching for Christ, y'all!