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Today we read from Isaiah 11:1-10

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

One of my favorite advent traditions was putting up the Jesse Tree, the lineage of Jesus. It was from this passage that the tradition of Jesse Trees were started.

My mother made the ornaments herself from white muslin and colored them with markers. We would hang them on a decorative white branch stuck into some florist foam. On the branches would hang Joseph's coat of many colors, the ten commandments, Noah's arc, David's harp, Judith's crown. These are the roots from which sprung forth Jesus.

I think of my family every advent season, and all our traditions, and I think of our own family tree, my own lineage. I come from a line of strong women, hardworking men, and many creative and ambitious minds. They have fought wars, marched in protests, stood in parliament, uprooted their families when they knew it would be a risk for a greater life. They've lived on farms and in big cities, in cabins and in mansions. They are my roots and my foundation, and I live each day hanging their ornaments on my own tree of Jesse.
I always find the story of Noah's arc very inspiring, right up with the Parabolas of Jesus.