“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
A popular custom often seen during Advent in Churches and homes is the “Jesse Tree”. Usually it is a physical tree or branch – often a dry one with no leaves – that is gradually decorated over the season of Advent with symbols of Old Testament events that foreshadow and lead up to the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
But the Jesse Tree is above all, a symbol of hope. Because long ago, God promised David that one of his descendants would sit on his throne, and his kingdom would be established forever. But David’s kingdom came to an end with the Babylonian Exile, and by Jesus’ time, the kings of Judea were not descendants of David. It seemed like God’s promise had come to an end. But as the prophet Isaiah foretold, and as we discover in the birth of Jesus, God’s promise had not come to an end, and a new shoot, a new branch, was springing up from what was thought to be the stump of the family tree of Jesse, the father of King David.
A 2020 survey by the Canadian Religious Conference reported the average age of members in religious orders in Canada is 82.5 years old.1 In some ways, religious life in Canada can sometimes seem like the stump of Jesse. And in the same report, the average age of people in formation for religious life is 33 years old. Do you think God is raising up new life in what seems many to be “dying” communities? Is God calling you to be part of this new life?
1 Canadian Religious Conference. “About CRC: Statistics” Accessed December 4, 2022 https://crc-canada.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/statistiques-crc-2020-sommaire.pdf