Thursday, November 5, 2009

Preparing for Advent

... the Church, especially during Advent and Lent and above all at the Easter Vigil, re-reads and re-lives the great events of salvation history in the "today" of her liturgy.
-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1095

Every year I lament the commercialism of
the holiday season and how it is nearly impossible to truly prepare for and celebrate the birth of our Savior in the midst of the annual flurry of greed. Not surprisingly, Church Ladies have learned the key to staying focused is to live life in the rhythm of the Church and to focus on Advent.

One way to do this is to use a Jesse Tree to track God's amazing plan of salvation from the fall of man to the birth of Christ. Reading each day's Bible story and adding its representative ornament to the tree gives us a small-scale sense of the waiting and the longing of the Jewish people for the promised Messiah.

There are several on-line resources for making your own Jesse tree symbols including ones here, and here. You can also buy a kit to make your own. (This kit is designed by someone from my parish and several years ago a number of ladies I know got together and made theirs in a cooperative effort. It was a fun day and we all went home with completed projects.)(NB - As a general rule, Church Ladies are NOT in favor of felt banners, but I will admit that it was a good medium for this project - versatile, cheap, and easy for children to manipulate the pieces.) I'd love to do this project using miniatures. I can picture the delight on my godchildren's faces as they handle the tiny apple, sandal, and coat of many colors! (But I do think it would be quite a project to assemble a full collection.)

Once you have your ornaments, what to do with them?
  • If you're one of those families who loves putting a Christmas tree up early, consider starting your decorations with lights only and making it an Advent Tree as you add each day's Jesse Tree symbol. On Christmas Eve you could replace all the Jesse Tree ornaments with your regular ones as you prepare to celebrate the Christmas season.
  • Make a small wooden tree like the one pictured above and simply slide each day's symbol onto one of the dowel arms.
  • Hang each day's symbol onto a mantle or a window where it will be a visible reminder of your waiting.

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