For the next four weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the season of Advent. One part of Advent is a Christian tradition involving the lighting of colored candles on a wreath. Three purple, one pink, and sometimes, one white candle in the center. Like this.
Each candle on the advent wreath holds a particular symbolic significance. The first candle symbolizes hope.
The first week of Advent has been a difficult one for me for the past few years. I don’t know why, but I always have a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Stress and anxiety over purchasing the perfect gifts for those on my list gets the best of me. Between that and planning my daughter’s birthday, which is just a few days after Christmas, I get overwhelmed to the point where I just want to crawl in bed and not come out until spring.
You know, hibernate. Like a bear.
But every year, when December 1st comes and I flip my calendar for the last time, I pull this out of storage and smile.
For those who may not be familiar with this particular Christian tradition, this is a Jesse Tree. This one in particular was made by my grandmother for my mom. My sister, brother and I took turns reading passages every night and snapping the felt images onto the tree, learning about our Bible history. When my son was two, my mom passed this precious heirloom down to me to share with my children. It’s a fun way for them to learn about stories in the Bible, and each year, as they grow, they have more questions about it. A few days ago, while reading about Abraham and Isaac, my son gasped when he realized that Abraham was about to kill his own son. It provided a good moment to share the similarity between that moment and God’s plan to sacrifice his own Son for us.
So, you may be wondering, why is this called a Jesse Tree? Who is Jesse?
Jesse was the father of David. The founder of the “House and Family of David” that Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, came from. I’m sure Jesse thought he was just an ordinary man, that he never thought of what kind of impact he would have on our history.
But Isaiah knew.
He could have been speaking of David, or perhaps he spoke of Jesus, the one who was to come. The one whose birth in a lowly stable would cause the Angels in heaven to rejoice.
Whatever the case, it provides us with some valuable insight into God’s plan. That he didn’t just decide one day to send his Son to Earth to save us. He planned it for centuries, for generations.
Giving us hope.
So if you, like me, have been having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit this year, remember that even the most ordinary days, and the most ordinary people, have their place in God’s plan.
All we need to do is open our eyes and our hearts to see it.