“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.” ~ Handel Brown
At Mass this evening and at all the Masses tomorrow, we begin the Season of Advent. This marks the period of preparation for Christmas. Advent has many traditions and follows many customs. One of the most common is the Advent Wreath. Four candles (three purple and one rose) are placed in the wreath and lit throughout the season accompanied by song and prayer.
Another, less observed, tradition of Advent is the Jesse Tree. A bare tree is placed in a prominent position in a church or a home. Each day, an ornament is added to the tree to symbolize a piece of our Salvation History.
You all know that, from time to time, I have approached these daily reflections from different views. I began them by focusing upon a piece of the daily scripture. Lately, I have been choosing random quotes and expounding upon them. I thought, for Advent, that I would change up yet again and base each day’s reflection upon the daily symbol of the Jesse Tree.
For all those “purists” out there who follow my reflections and offer me feedback, I am going to tell you right away that there are many versions of the Jesse Tree and different symbols attached to each day. If I do not reflect upon one for which you are familiar, it is just because I am working from a different list. It is all good.
The important thing is that we move together to the celebration of Christmas because, as Pastor Brown indicates, Christmas should be much more than an observance of a date on the calendar. Christmas must be an experience. In order for Christmas to be an experience, each day of the Advent Season must be an experience as well.
So prepare, because tomorrow we begin in earnest. If you have not already done so, you might want to construct an Advent wreath to mark the journey. And, if you are so inclined, you might also want to get a bare branch (or just put up a bare Christmas tree) and prepare to make a symbol each day and place it on your Jesse Tree so that we may journey together.
The journey is important. The destination is critical. Let us journey together, lest we miss the markings along the way and end up going in the wrong direction.
FAITH ACTION: Gather your family together and explain Advent to them. Encourage them to reflect daily upon the symbols of the Jesse Tree.