This past Sunday, November 29, 2009, Catholic homeschoolers and members of the St. Helena Home Educators (SHHE) support organization in Corpus Christi celebrated the beginning of Advent. Close to 30 families participated in the event which included prayer, Jesse Tree ornament exchange, and dinner.
Advent is the beginning of the Liturgical year, and refers to the coming of Jesus. It is also a time to reflect, do penance, and prepare for the second coming of Christ. During Advent, we remember the coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem, the coming in the Daily Eucharist, and we wait for his second coming in grace as the Redeemer and Saviour.
As a way to help families of the SHHE group celebrate and prepare for Advent with their families, the group hosted a Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange. Nearly 30 families participated in the ornament exchange in which symbols of the season were crafted by each family then exchanged. The Jesse Tree ornaments represents the story of Jesus Christ from the beginning of creation. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, 'A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, And from his roots a bud shall blossom.'
A Jesse Tree is a unique Advent tradition along with the customary lighting of the Advent wreath in which families can use to help explain, especially to children, the hope of Jesus's second coming. Since it is done on a daily basis, it is also a great way to incorporate daily prayers, daily reflection, and family traditions. Among a few of the ornaments crafted by the families were: the earth, a branch with a sprout, a star, a ladder, a heart, noah's ark, scroll, cross, lamb, a star, an angel, and the Holy Family, plus many more.
The St. Helena's Home Educators group meets at St. Helena of the True Cross Catholic Church at 7634 Wooldridge Rd., Corpus Christi, TX 78414. For more information about the group and to obtain meeting times, please see the SHHE page.
For more information about the Jesse Tree, visit the Resources for Catholic Educators site, the St. Michael the Arch Angel online Jesse Tree page, or visit Holy Heroes and sign up for their Advent Adventures (it's free). In addition, there are several books available that explain the tradition and symbols that could be used as ornaments. One such book is the 'Jesse Tree Kit' by Lynn M. Simms and Betsy Walter.