Sonntag, 29. November 2015

Advent 1 - The Jesse Tree

Meditation for the First Sunday in Advent

Today is the beginning of the Advent season, a time of preparation and repentance and looking forward to Christ's coming. We both remember His first coming, the Holy God incarnated as a little baby, and anticipate His second coming in glory to judge the world and take us to heaven.

In early days this season was treated much like Lent, in that people focused on the repentance aspect of the preparation, to purge the body and mind of worldliness to be ready for Christ's coming to judgment. The liturgical color of purple for repentance reflects this. Fasting, refraining from rich foods and amusements, and confession were a part of these observations. It is intended to be a sober time of reflection. But because each Sunday is a "little Easter" we have a reprieve of sorts from the gloominess of the weekdays.  We speak of the Sundays in Advent, rather than of Advent, as separated from the weekdays. While we limit candles and omit the hallelujahs in Advent, we do use our Advent wreaths to visually signify the passage of time toward our celebration of The Coming.

Another way the Church has long visually noted the Advent season is with the Jesse Tree. This is a depiction of the Incarnational genealogy of Jesus. The Bible is replete with references to the lines of humanity that brought us the Saviour in human form. The Old Testament has numerous family lines, and Jesus's family tree is written in both Matthew 1 and Luke 3 (probably for Mary and Joseph, more on which later, when we come to those figures.). Medieval churches often have frescoes or stained glass windows with Jesse Trees. (Look it up; they are lovely.) They are usually quite abbreviated for space reasons, but show the main figures in the family line. This is what we also will see here for Advent. A written family tree will be forthcoming here.

For Advent we will look at the commendable qualities of these figures, and for the Christmas service will note the very compelling reasons these people need a Saviour.

We start at the beginning. While Jesus had a human family, His Father is God, as is Our Father as we regularly pray. God is the creator of all, including humanity, so He created the human family also for Jesus (who, of course was not created in time, but is eternally begotten of His Father).

First Family
Our first figure is God the Father. God likes families. He is a family, as we note already in Genesis 1: 26. We can't understand the Trinity, but it powerfully depicts the importance of families. As God the Father, He is the progenitor of all things. As Father He is also  provider, protector, and head.

These are good verses to read and ponder about God as our Father and Jesus' Father:

Luke 3: 38
I Peter 1: 2
Psalm 68 and 103
You will likely think of others.

The picture for today shows God's creating hands forming the world and separating the firmaments and light from dark, and seas from land, to prepare for the crown of His creation, Man. Tomorrow we will see that first man, Adam.

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