Firstly, a confession … I had the honour of contributing a chapter to this book. And I am so glad to have had that opportunity. This is a lovely book, a devotional ideal for family reading through Advent, that takes the readers through a number of Bible characters from the family tree of Jesus.
Isaiah 11:1 says “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” This promises that the descendants of Jesse will be fruitful, and more than that Isaiah goes on to prophesy through chapter 11 about who Jesus will be. This passage lends itself to the name of the Jesse Tree.
The Jesse Tree Advent tradition, started maybe in medieval times, tells the story from creation through to the birth of Jesus. Hence this book allows the reader to reach through the Bible stories, see something of the character of the ancestors of Jesus, to gain a deeper understanding of the rich earthly heritage of Jesus.
Each day the reader has a few verses of a Bible passage, a short commentary to reflect on that passage, and then a few thoughts for the readers to think about or pray about each day. Then there is a picture each day for a bit of colouring, which by the end of Advent allows you to then create your own Jesse Tree.
The content is pitched appropriately for children aged about seven upwards and would be ideal for mutual reading – perhaps an early morning devotional to start the day, or a lovely bedtime read.
Each day’s contribution comes from a different author, with Rachel having pulled together 25 different writers to share their thoughts – quite a feat of organising!
What becomes clear as you read through each day, is how it all points towards Jesus. Right from the first moments of creation, through Noah, Abram, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and many others who all had such faith, took their inspiration from God and whose stories all point the way to Jesus coming into the world.
Reading this each day through Advent is a great way to prepare for Christmas, to focus on the reason why we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.