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The Jesse Tree

Last year I was invited to an ‘advent party’ in someone’s house. It was a church family of all different age groups having fun together. After plenty of time to eat, drink and chat to one another, we all gathered around for a communal activity. The hosts of the house had made a ‘Jesse tree’ from felt and materials. Each week for the four weeks in Advent someone at the party had been invited to stick biblical symbols on this tree. This followed acting stories from the bible (with simple costumes), reading verses aloud from the bible and singing Christmas songs and carols.

This ‘Jesse Tree’ was intriguing as it gave a visual overview of the plans and purposes of God from creation, the fall, Noah, the patriarchs, Moses, the conquest of the promised land, Ruth, David, the prophets, Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem on the return from exile, John the Baptist and finally the coming of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah. It was a creative way of teaching from the bible.

The prophetic image in the bible about Jesus coming as a branch on a tree appears in both the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah. Isaiah says, ‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit’ (Isaiah‬ ‭11:1‬), and ‘In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious’ (Isaiah 11:10).‬ Jeremiah says, ‘In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness”’ (Jeremiah 33:15-16).‬

I wonder whether other people have been impressed by visual images that convey biblical concepts or themes. My earliest memory of church is being fascinated by beautiful violet light reflected from the stained glass on to my hand. I was disappointed a bit later on to go in a church with plain wooden walls and clear glass windows, and no pretty colours. Then I went to a church that had a pointed archway with the words printed around it, ‘Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’. It also had a mosaic picture of Jesus with the fishermen in boats which said, ‘I will make you fishers of men’. This made even more impact on me as I lived in a fishing town and the church was in the area built for the fishermen’s cottages.

People rarely remember the details of the words which are spoken to them in church as spiritual messages each Sunday morning. But, if there was a drama or something interesting to look at, people are more likely to remember it well and for a long time. Banners and pictures on the wall can continue to reinforce a message visually, long after a spoken word has been forgotten.

The parables of Jesus were spiritual messages about God’s Kingdom which came through stories and visual symbols and which stuck in the memory of the listeners. Christian artists, musicians, actors, and dancers have often expressed messages from God’s word, in all kinds of ways, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Maybe we should be more open to receiving or enjoying God’s messages coming to us in creative ways. We could use creativity to bring beauty for His glory and touch people in their spirits.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank You that You give the gift of creativity to bless us. May we enter into all that You have for us to enjoy and help us to redeem creativity from any influence of the kingdom of darkness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


 

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Scripture

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.’
Isaiah‬ ‭11:1, ESV‬

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Today's Writer

Liz Griffin lived for 20 years as an expatriate in South Africa, Bahrain and Japan, as her husband Paul worked for an international oil company. Paul and Liz became involved with Ellel Ministries in 1991 as part of the ministry team and joined the full-time team at Ellel Grange in 1995. Paul and Liz teach and minister to those seeking healing in their lives and together have written two books, 'Anger - How Do You Handle It' and 'Hope and Healing For The Abused'.

Liz Griffin


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