When Sr. Annella left St. Anne’s some years ago, I inherited her job of leading a weekly ecumenical Bible Study for our residents. Attendance any given week usually ranges from eight to thirteen people of various Christian faith traditions.
A tradition I inherited (and further developed) from Sr. Annella is that of the Jesse Tree. She had cut out green leaf/branches with names of prominent figures in salvation history written on them. she had a little type-written prayer service as well. A couple of years ago, Shelly (our activity directer) and I made a felt-board for these leaf/branches.
I printed up a little booklet with the texts of hymns, prayers, and readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, etc., which shared a brief story of salvation history leading up to Christ’s coming.
Now, every year. we use it for a Bible Study in mid-December. The residents get to be engaged in reading, singing, and putting up the branches with Velcro. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do, and for the feedback I’ve received, I think they do like it. I have to explain who Jesse was, though. This reminds me of a verse from the beloved Advent hymn: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which refers to King David’s father. One English text renders it:
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust Thy mighty power to save,
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.
I am always touched by the beautiful experience of celebrating ‘the Jesse Tree’ with our residents.