A Sweet Jesse Tree for Christmas

WARNING: Contains significant use of sugar, artificial colours and flavours, and some traces of nutsSweetJesseTree1

This year the Christmas decorations had well and truly appeared in our local department store by September! Could be a chance to despair over the consumerism of Christmas, or a reminder to prepare early and make the most of the wonderful opportunities Christmas brings. Last year our family managed to get ready early. This year we thought we’d share what we did.

Thanks to Kent and Barbara Hughes’ book Common Sense Parenting (later re-published in updated form as Disciplines of a Godly Family), one of our family Christmas traditions has been the Jesse Tree.

Each day in December we read a passage (or two) from the Bible. By the time we get to December 25 we’ve read the story of God’s work in the world – through Jesus – from creation through Abraham, the Exodus, the Kings and Prophets, culminating in the Christmas narratives.

Over the years we’ve made ornaments for each of the Bible readings and our kids have taken turns putting up the ornaments each day. Somehow the appeal of our ornaments had faded. Last year our youngest turned twelve and we decided to take a fresh approach, involving the lolly shop (a.k.a. candy shop for North American readers!)

On a child-free day off, armed with a selection of Bible passages, we headed for the supermarket and then a couple of specialty shops. We were looking for a smorgasbord of sweets which would remind our kids of the amazing things we celebrate at Christmas. Twenty-five varieties of lollies later, we arrived home, packed the lolly bags and waited for December to begin.

Here’s the Bible passages we read each day and the lollies we used.

  1. Light of Creation – Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5; Lolly symbol: yellow or orange ‘UFO’ disks (= sun)
  2. The First Sin – Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-10; Romans 5:17-19; Lolly: sour apples
  3. The Ark – Genesis 6:11-22, 9:12-16; Heb 11:6-7; Lolly: rainbow straps
  4. Promise to Abraham – Genesis 12:1-5, 15:1-6; Galatians 3:6-9, 13-14; Lolly: Milky Way bars (numerous stars)
  5. Isaac and the Lamb – Genesis 22:1-14; John 1:29; Lolly: white marshmellow ‘sheep’ (eyes painted on!)
  6. Jacob’s Ladder – Genesis 28:10-17; John 1:49-51; Lolly: Cadbury ‘Dream’ white chocolate
  7. Joseph’s ‘Coat of Many Colours’ – Genesis 37:3-36, 50:20; Romans 8:28; Lolly: Smarties (many colours and Joseph was ‘smart’)
  8. The Lion of Judah – Genesis 49:8-12; Revelation 5:1-14. Lolly: Lion chocolate bar.
  9. The Exodus – Exodus 8:1-15; Acts 13:17; Lolly: frogs
  10. The Ten Commands – Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 119:9-11; Romans 3:19-22; Lolly: Lips (speaking)
  11. The Promised Land – Deuteronomy 26:1-15; 2 Peter 3:13; Lolly: milk bottles (‘flowing with milk…’)
  12. Ruth and Boaz – Ruth 1:15-18, 2:1-23, 4:13-17; Matthew 1:1, 5-6; Lolly: barley sugar (harvest)
  13. King David – 1 Samuel 17:1-15, 32-50; 2 Timothy 2:8; Lolly: Warheads (i.e. smooth stones!)
  14. Kingdom split – 1 Kings 12:12-20; Ezekiel 37:15-22; John 4:21-26. Lolly: KitKats (break them in two!)
  15. Exile – 2 Kings 17:21-24, 24:10-25:12; Galatians 4:26-27. Lolly: Flakes (crumbling!)
  16. Shoot from the Stump of Jesse – Isaiah 11:1-12; Luke 3:21-23; Acts 13:22-23; Lolly: mint leaves (new growth)
  17. Hope for nations – Isaiah 49:1-7; Luke 2:25-33; Acts 13:46-48. Lolly: Turkish delight (last reference to Psidian Antioch, i.e. in Turkey!)
  18. The Good Shepherd – Psalm 23:1-4; Isaiah 40:9-11; John 10:11,27-28. Lolly: candy canes
  19. Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53; John 1:10-13; 1 Peter 2:24-25. Lolly: Noughts and Crosses
  20. New Covenant – Jeremiah 31:31-34; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Hebrews 8:8-12. Lolly: heart chocolates.
  21. Light of the World – Isaiah 9:6-7; John 1:1-5, 8:12; Lolly: lemon sherberts
  22. The Name ‘Jesus’ – Matthew 1:18-25; Acts 5:30-32. Lolly: Life Savers
  23. Birth of a Baby ­– Luke 2:1-12; John 3:16-17. Lolly: jelly babies
  24. The Star – Matthew 2:1-12; Revelation 22:16. Lolly: Milky Way Stars
  25. The Magi/Gold – 1 Kings 10:1-10; Matthew 2:11; Revelation 21:9-21; Lolly: gold coins


(Of course, you may have the fun of finding different lollies available and needing to match to different passages, while still keeping the overall key stages of salvation history!)

Other ideas:

  • We found we had enough excess lollies to send a spare set of lolly bags to some friends who have kids of similar ages to ours.
  • We challenged our kids to work out which came next in the Bible story and guess which lolly we had chosen to represent the Bible passage after we’d read it.
  • Some of the Bible passages were reasonably lengthy, but our teenage kids were up to it; you may need to abbreviate with younger kids.

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