21/12/08 – The Jesse Tree (Week 4)

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, four more symbols will be added to the Jesse Tree by the children.  These recall the story of our ancestors in faith.  They also recall the covenant between God and us, a covenant sealed through the fulfilment of God’s promise of a Messiah.  In Advent we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth in the Christmas season, as well as for our Messiah’s return at the end of time.

David. David is remembered as the great king of the people of Israel in the Old Testament times.  The Messiah who is promised is said to be of the line of King David.  Joseph, the husband of Mary was a descendant of David, and thus makes complete the promise of Jesus, the Messiah born of David’s line.

Mary. Mary, of course, is the mother of Jesus.  She accepts God’s will and commits herself not only to being the mother of Christ, but also to enduring the suffering and sadness that will eventually come as she watches her son die.  She remains with the disciples after the resurrection.

Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the cousin of Mary and the mother of John the Baptist.  It is Elizabeth’s pregnancy that is cited as proof of God’s will and his desire for Mary to be the mother of Jesus.  Mary visits Elizabeth during her pregnancy; Elizabeth greets Mary with words that we use to this day in the Hail Mary.

Joseph. Joseph is chosen to marry Mary and act as father to Jesus.  Despite early doubts, he is spoken to in a dream and is committed from that point forward to fulfil his role in the life of Jesus.

In Children’s Liturgy of the Word, each child will receive their own copies of these symbols.  Take the time to share and discuss these with your children.  Read some of the bible stories.  Perhaps you can set up your own Jesse Tree at home as a preparation for Christmas.

7/12/08 – The Jesse Tree (Week 2)

On this Second Sunday of Advent, four more symbols will be added to the Jesse Tree by the children.  These recall the story of our ancestors in faith.  They also recall the covenant between God and us, a covenant sealed through the fulfilment of God’s promise of a Messiah.  In Advent we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth in the Christmas season, as well as for our Messiah’s return at the end of time.

John the Baptist. John is the central figure in the gospel reading for today.  He calls on people to prepare a way for the Lord.  He challenges them to do so by repenting; being cleansed of their sins through a symbolic baptism.  It is John that will go on to identify his own relative, Jesus, as the Lamb of God.

Jacob. Jacob represents a significant step forward in the growth of the descendants of Abraham.  Jacob has twelve sons, most of whom are threatened by, and try to do away with their sibling, Joseph.  Joseph goes on to save them all, and the family take up residence in a plentiful Egypt while Canaan was in famine.

Moses. Jacob’s sons led the Israelites into Egpyt.  It was Moses who led them out again to escape the slavery imposed on them by Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  God calls Moses through the burning bush, making himself known to Moses through the now well-known words, “I am who I am”.

Isaiah. Although the book of Isaiah is the bible is attributed by scholars today to several writers, they represent amazing prophecy.  The early Christians very quickly began to identify the prophecies of Isaiah as being made manifest in the life and ministry of Christ.

In Children’s Liturgy of the Word, each child will receive their own copies of these symbols.  Take the time to share and discuss these with your children.  Read some of the bible stories.   Perhaps you can set up your own Jesse Tree at home as a preparation for Christmas.

30/11/08 – The Jesse Tree

On this First Sunday of Advent, four symbols will be added to the Jesse Tree by the children.  These recall the story of our ancestors in faith.  They also recall the covenant between God and us, a covenant sealed through the fulfilment of God’s promise of a Messiah.  In Advent we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth in the Christmas season, as well as for our Messiah’s return at the end of time.

God. The creator of our world and of our own selves.  God sent his only Son to live among us and be our saviour.  The world was created, and Jesus’ birth made possible only through the will of God.

Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve represent the beginning of human life on earth.  The story of Adam and Eve tells of an emerging and enduring relationship between us and God.  It reminds us of our continued struggle to live according to God’s ways.

Abraham. God’s relationship with Abraham sees the beginning of a covenant between God and the people of Israel.  As a result of Abraham’s faith, God promises that his descendants will be as many as the stars in heaven.

Isaac. Abraham’s faith in God is tested to the point of him being willing to sacrifice his only son.  Again, as a result of his enduring faith, God reaffirms this relationship of trust.  Issac is spared, and a ram is found nearby; it is sacrificed as a burnt offering on the altar Abraham built.

In Children’s Liturgy of the Word, each child will receive their own copies of these symbols.  Take the time to share and discuss these with your children.  Read some of the bible stories.  Perhaps you can set up your own Jesse Tree at home as a preparation for Christmas.

23/11/08 – Advent is Coming

Next Sunday is the beginning of the Season of Advent.   Over the four weeks, we enter into a season of preparation.  It is a season of devout and joyful expectation; of both the season of Christmas, and the return of Christ at the end of time.

Christmas brought us God’s promise of the Messiah.  In this year’s Advent season, we will reflect upon the history of the covenant between God and God’s people.  Our ancestors of faith, our heritage of belief, will be expressed through the use of the Jesse Tree.

Jesse was the father of the Old Testament King of Israel, David.  The symbol of the tree is often associated with Jesse and with genealogy in general.  The hymn that is well-known in this parish, namely Flower of Carmel, names Mary as a “strong stem of Jesse, who bore one bright flower.”

Each week, children at the 9:00 a.m. Mass will place symbols of four pre-Christian figures on the tree.  They are significant in the relationship between God and God’s people, leading to the Messiah.  The symbols, and the people they represent, will be explained in Carmel each week.

In part of our celebration of this important season, the rostered readers for each week will be asked once again to attend a preparation workshop.  This will be held on each Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Church.

Finally, I invite everyone to participate in Evening Prayer this season.  Using the music and meditative style of the Taizé community (as with our Evening Prayer on the parish feast day this year), these services will provide a prayerful way to enter the season.  We have moved the prayer to Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in a hope that more parishioners may be able to participate.