Jesse Tree 11. Joshua and Rahab - Wednesday, 8 December 2021

READ: Joshua 1-2 2:1-21

Then Joshua, son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So, they went and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.” But the woman took the two men and hid them.                                                                                                                                        (Joshua 2:1-4)

Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land. ... The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you, in turn, will deal kindly with my family.” … The men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land. … We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down,” … She said, “According to your words, so be it.”                        (Joshua 2:8-21)

REFLECT

The Israelites have been wandering in the desert for 40 years, and now it’s finally time to move into the land that God promised them. That land is called Canaan, and it’s filled with people who don’t love or trust God. Joshua is put in charge after Moses dies, and it’s his job to get them to the promised land.

But when two Israelite spies sneak into the city of Jericho in Canaan, they get help from someone they least expect: a woman named Rahab. Even though she’s not an Israelite, she has heard about the God of Israel. And she believes that he is the true God. After she helps the Israelite spies, she asks them to protect her family when the Israelite army comes to knock down Jericho. The spies agree—if she hangs a red rope in her window so they know which house to protect. The red rope will save Rahab’s life. That red rope hanging in her window looks a lot like a trail of blood, which reminds us of the blood of Jesus. When Jesus died, his blood saved our lives, just like the red rope saved Rahab’s life. If we trust in God, like Rahab did, we get to join God’s family and be protected.

The family line of Jesus is full of unlikely people. They regularly forget, disobey, or betray God and Rahab is one of these. In a genealogy that stretches from Abraham to Jesus, she’s one of just five women named. In a patrilineal genealogy—a record of fathers and sons—she makes the cut. And God invites her to play a role in the story of Israel claiming the land God has promised. He grafts her into the family early enough that she gets to be one of Jesus’ great- great- great-grandmothers. What an encouragement, not only does God want us in his family, but he also wants to use us.

When we join the family, he’ll put us to work, helping move this story along to its beautiful conclusion. Rahab got to play a part in Jesus’ coming as a baby, but we get to join in as Jesus comes in glory.

TALK

  • Why do you think the Israelite spies told Rahab to hang a red rope in her window?
  • Do you ever feel unworthy to be part of God’s family?

PRAY

God, your grace is astonishing! You could care less about my pedigree, and you’re even willing to overlook my sin as you graft me into your family and your story. Would you help me to be faithful like Rahab as I do the work you've called me to do?

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Bless someone you don't know with a random act of kindness. 


Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 10. Moses - Tuesday, 7 December 2021

READ: Exodus 2-3, 19-20

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.                                                                                                                                               (Exodus 2:1-6)

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.                    (Exodus 19:3-6)

REFLECT

Moses’ story is pretty amazing. He was a Hebrew boy, saved as a baby, and then grew up as an Egyptian Prince. He was sent away, lived as a shepherd, had an encounter with God in a burning bush, sent back to Egypt to save the Israelites from slavery, escaped, then led the Israelites around in the desert for 40 years, spoke to God in a cloud, and was given the task of giving God’s laws.

Have you ever read the rules at the pool? Shower first; No running; No diving; No unsupervised children; No food or drinks. Who made up those rules? Showering first just seems silly, doesn’t it? It’s like the pool people are trying to spoil all our fun!

The Ten Commandments and other Laws that God gave Moses can seem that way too, like a list of rules that God gave us to ruin our fun. But God’s not like that. He gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments to help everyone live together well and to set them apart as his people. He didn’t tack up the Ten Commandments on a wall and leave the Israelites on their own. No, God had already chosen the people of Israel and promised to love them. When he gave the commandments to Moses, he planned to stay with his people and keep loving them.

We should follow God’s commandments not just because they’ll keep us safe, like the rules at the pool. We should follow them because God loves us. And the best news of all is that Jesus helps us to follow them!

TALK

  • Which of the Ten Commandments is hardest for you to follow? Why?
  • Which is the easiest? Why?

PRAY

God, will you remind me of how much you already love me? Help me remember that following your rules doesn’t make you love me. I am so thankful that your life fulfills the law I daily fail to keep. Holy Spirit, work that mysterious process in me and make me one with Christ. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Bless someone by telling them about how God’s Love and how his Laws help us live with him.



Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 9. Joseph - Monday, 6 December 2021

READ Genesis 37

Now [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. … So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.                                            (Genesis 37:1-36)

REFLECT

Little brothers and sisters can be the worst. In Joseph’s case, his father, Jacob, loved him more than all his brothers. Jacob gave Joseph a special coat, which made them jealous. And at the breakfast table in the mornings, Joseph liked to tell his family about his dreams. He often dreamed about being in charge of all his brothers. That made his brothers furious.

Big brothers (and sisters) can be the worst, too. In this story, Joseph’s jealous brothers decided to kill him and his stupid dreams. They didn’t quite kill him, but they did take his special coat and sell him to some slave traders for twenty pieces of silver.

Joseph isn’t the only child to have been his father’s favorite and make his brothers want to kill him. The Bible says that Jesus is God’s beloved son, kind of like God’s favorite. And when Jesus started sharing his message with people, they got so mad they tried to kill him. They took his coat, too.

The Good News is that the story about Joseph and his brothers ends well. Joseph does end up being in charge, but it helps save his family—just like in the story of Jesus. Jesus is sold for thirty pieces of silver and then killed. But he comes back to life and is king over the whole world. The people that hated Jesus are the same people that he came to save. And do you know who those people are? They are you and me.

TALK

  • How did Joseph’s brothers feel?
  • How could Joseph still love his brothers when they hated him so much?
  • How can you love your brothers and sisters even when they do things that upset or hurt you?

PRAY

Wow, Jesus! I’m amazed that you and Joseph were willing to love the people who hated you. I’m also thankful because it means that you love me and have saved me. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree

Do something nice for one of your family members and forgive them for a past hurt you might be holding on to.

 

Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 8. Jacob - Sunday, 5 December 2021

READ Genesis 27-28

And [Jacob] dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”    (Genesis 28:10-22)

REFLECT

What kinds of things do you dream about? Some dreams are usually silly, mixed-up stories, sometimes they’re scary or strange.

Jacob had a pretty strange dream. He dreamed about a ladder that reached from the ground all the way up into the sky, with angels climbing up and down on it. And in his dream, he heard God talking to him. God told Jacob that God was going to give him the land all around him. Jacob’s great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren would move far away and would be a blessing to everyone else. God also promised Jacob that God would stay near him wherever he went. What a wonderful promise!

Sometimes, we’re so busy during the day that we don’t notice God. God waited until Jacob had slowed down, gotten quiet, and fallen asleep to talk to him. Nothing distracted Jacob from hearing God’s voice. God’s words were so thrilling that they woke Jacob right up, and he promised to serve God in return.

TALK

  • What did Jacob make of his vivid dream?
  • What’s one dream you can remember?
  • Do you feel like God has ever spoken to you in a dream? Or another way?

PRAY

God, thank you for your promise to Jacob. Will you help me pay attention to you and listen when you have something to tell me and help me to give myself fully to you. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Share with someone else ways that help you get a good night’s sleep.


 

Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 7. Isaac - Saturday, 4 December 2021

READ: Genesis 21-22

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”                                                (Genesis 22:1-2)

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now, I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So, Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”                           (Genesis 22:9-14)

REFLECT

God’s plan to show his love to everyone needed Abraham to be the real deal. Abraham had to be serious about trusting God. To make sure, God decided to test Abraham.

God thought of the one thing that would be hardest for Abraham to give up: Isaac, his son. Abraham loved Isaac with his whole heart, and now God was asking Abraham to give Isaac as a present to God. It meant that Abraham would have to kill Isaac. It made Abraham really sad, but he believed that God would keep the promise to give Abraham lots of grandchildren. He trusted God.

When God saw that Abraham trusted him completely, God provided another way. He showed Abraham a sheep nearby, which Abraham could give to God as a present instead.

Many years later, God himself gave up his son. This time, the son wasn’t Isaac; it was Jesus. And this time, Jesus was the sheep, too. He’s the Lamb of God, and God gave him as a present for the whole world.

TALK

  • How did Isaac feel when he was going up the mountain with his dad?
  • How much do you think God loves you?
  • How much do you love God?

 PRAY

Jesus, thank you for being a present to me. Help me trust you even when things are very hard. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Find something of yours to give away that could bless someone else.


Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Advent 2. Getting Ready - Sunday, 5 December 2021

READ Malachi 3:1-4 & Luke 3:1-6

This week, the readings and addition to the Nativity display acknowledge the process of getting ready. We think about things in our lives that need to be ‘made smoother’ – but also, things in the world, the valleys and rocky paths, the injustices, and difficult things that we can work to straighten out to make the paths for the Kingdom. Today, there is a path added to our display and we will add sheep and shepherds who journeyed towards the newborn baby.

REFLECT, TALK & DO

It's week 2 of Advent! Last week we talked about anticipating… what we are looking forward to and built a tree with our prayers of hope and anticipation. This week, we’ll talk about how Advent is about getting ready, and smoothing the way for ourselves and others to experience peace. The Bible is full of bits of looking forwards – and lots of bits about getting ready for what was coming.

 In Luke chapter 3, we read the story about John the Baptist, who was Jesus’ prophet cousin. He was preparing the way for Jesus. What he said to the people, was like preparing a road towards Jesus. And today we will add a path to the tree, with some signs to lead the way. Read John 3:1-6 from the road signs.

  • What do you think it means to “prepare the way for the Lord” and “make straight paths for him”?

In the Christmas story, we think a lot about the people who came to meet Jesus. But it is interesting to think about this verse, and how God is talking about making paths straight and mountains flattened as a highway for God to be known on – a highway for God so that everyone can see God’s salvation. This passage might be used as an encouragement to do some landscape gardening! To encourage us to look at the way that we come towards God, and the way that we encourage others to try to come towards God. Spend time reflecting on:

  • What are some ways that the paths can be made straight and the rough roads, smoothed, so that God can be seen more clearly?
  • What things in your life are barriers to you experiencing God’s Love and Peace?
  • What are some things that you or others do that form barriers to people experiencing God’s love and Peace? In church? At home? At work or school? Have a think – it might be something in your life you need to straighten out, maybe an expectation that you’ve placed on someone else, maybe the ways that we expect people to behave or think in church or at home, It might be conflict with people you care about, think about tricky things that could be smoother…

During worship today, you are invited to add shepherds, and sheep to the path and the tree with your written and coloured prayers that God would make the paths straighter, and that his salvation will be seen.

PRAY

God of highways in the wilderness, help us to find ways to make the paths straight and the rough places smooth. Help us to identify and prepare ways for you to be seen and known in the world. Amen


Watery Advent 1. PEACE

Usually during Advent, we do an advent candle wreath, however this year we are doing a water wreath! Especially in the hot Australian Summer water is something that we anticipate, that we hope for. A cup of cool cup of water on a hot summer’s day, rain for our farmers and lawns, water to swim in, water for baptism! Water is a powerful symbol. 

So each week, just like we would with a candle wreath, we’re going to fill a new cup instead of lighting a new candle as we reflect on Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy. Each week we will be adding more to the Jesse tree and to remind us of life growing out of the stump.

1: As we pour the water for our Advent wreath, we remember our deep thirst for God's peace.

All: We long for your peace, O God. [Pour water into the second glass.]

2: The peace of a long soak in a hot tub after a hard day’s work.

All: We long for your peace, O God.

1: The peace of steam rising around a home saved by the sweat and sacrifice of a community of firefighters and their supporters.

All: We long for your peace, O God.

2: Peace as deep and mysterious and teeming with life as the vast oceans.

All: We long for your peace, O God.

1: I invite you to name aloud people and places which are in particular need of God’s peace at this time e.g.: Neighbours who disagree; victims of crime; facing medical procedures; living with grief; In war-torn places; families involved with Courts

1 & 2: Advent God, we worship you with peace.


Materials adapted from: https://intergen.org.au/product/advent-series-something-is-coming/ & https://sa.uca.org.au/documents/intergen-docs/resources/Engage-Together-Advent-2020.pdf     


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Jesse Tree 6. Abraham & Sarah - Friday, 3 December 2021

READ: Genesis 15-17

God brought Abraham outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.                                                                                           (Genesis 15:5)

You will not be called Abram anymore. Your name will be Abraham because I have made you a father of many nations. I will greatly increase the number of your children after you. Nations and kings will come from you. I will make my covenant with you last forever. It will be between me and you and your family after you for all time to come. I will be your God. And I will be the God of all your family after you.                                                                                                                                                                    (Genesis 17:5-7)

God also said to Abraham, “Do not continue to call your wife by the name Sarai. Her name will be Sarah. I will give her my blessing. You can be sure that I will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations. Kings of nations will come from her.”                                        (Genesis 17:15-16)

REFLECT

If there’s a clear night this week, go outside with your family before you go to bed. Find a spot where you can see the sky and look up. Hopefully, the sky is dark enough that you’re able to see the tiny pinpricks of stars, way off in the distance. The longer you look, the more stars you’ll be able to see.

This is how God showed Abraham how big his family would be. God promised that Abraham would have one son and so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that he wouldn’t be able to count them, even if he tried. He’d changed their names and promised that Kings of nations would come from them.

Did you realize that you are part of Abraham’s family? When God showed Abraham all those stars, he was including you, too! Because of Jesus Christ, we are adopted into that same family—the family of Abraham and the family of God. The people in the stories you’re reading this Advent are your great-great-great grandmas and grandpas!

TALK

  • Do you think Abraham tried to count all the stars he could see?
  • What does it feel like to be part of God’s family?

PRAY

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thank you for making me part of your family. I’m thankful that I get to be in the same family as Jesus. Thank you for inviting me into the covenant promise. Help me reflect the family name well. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Go outside and count the stars and thank God for each of your ancestors, by name if you can.




Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 5. Abram - Thursday, 2 December 2021

READ: Genesis 12

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”                                                                           (Genesis 12:1-3)

REFLECT

Moving isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. Packing feels overwhelming, loading and unloading the truck are exhausting, and settling in seems never ending. (Who doesn’t have one box still unopened in the basement?) Then there’s the way moving often takes us far away from the places we know and the people we love.

But God doesn’t let those challenges stop him from calling us to a new home. Abraham and Sarah had to pack up their tents, load up their camels, and slowly make their way from their home in Ur to a new land, called Canaan. Abraham and Sarah could have decided to stay put, figuring that the energy of moving wasn’t worth it. They could have established themselves more deeply in Ur and remained close to their families.

If they had done that, though, God’s blessing wouldn’t have gone out to the world. Through Abraham, God promises to bless all the families of the earth. Abraham’s willingness to do something uncomfortable and unknown means that the grace of God goes out.

In Abraham’s journey, we can see the faint outlines of Jesus himself. The Son of God also left his home, where he dwelled with the Father. He also travelled to a distant land, the land of humanity. And through him, the grace of God went out. Jesus’ willingness to leave the comfort of the divine dwelling and enter into our world means that the blessing extends to us. From him, we have received grace upon grace.

TALK

  • What does it feel like to go somewhere new?
  • Why was Jesus willing to leave heaven to show God’s love to us?

PRAY

Jesus, thank you so much for coming to earth so we can be loved by God. Help me to step away from familiar spaces into new ones, where you can spread your grace through me. Please help me do hard things sometimes so other people can know your love, too? Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Do something for someone else that is hard for you to do.



Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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Jesse Tree 4. Noah - Wednesday, 1 December 2021

READ Genesis 6-9

The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.                                                                                                                                                   (Genesis 7:17-22)

REFLECT

The wickedness is too much to bear. Cruelty and violence are overwhelming. Everything is corrupt to the core: “every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Fed up, God demolishes it. He drowns it in rain. Water, murky water, swallows up the whole of God’s creation. What was once a lush landscape had been marred by the evil of people, so God buried the whole thing in water. Only Noah and his family and a sampling of animals survive. And even they are powerless, reliant on God’s mercy to stop the rain and begin again. The lonely ark drifts on the vast expanse of water.

Until the rains stop, and the deep holds back its fountains. Still the ark drifts. The waters subside. But still the ark drifts. A bird sent out returns, finding no place—not a single twig—to alight on for even a moment. The waters recede further, though not enough to see more than the tops of mountains. No grassy plains, no flower-strewn meadows, no tree-lined valleys. Just rocky peaks. Noah sends out another bird. He doesn’t hold his breath. It may very well return bearing no sign of life. But wait—what’s that in its beak? An olive leaf, smooth, fragrant, redolent with life. Hope is born. The very same breath that he breathed into Adam, God took away from everyone in the flood. God wanted to start fresh. And he did—God has given us a new kind of breath, Holy Spirit breath.

In a way, God has breathed into us just like he breathed into Adam. We live because we have the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, in us.

TALK

  • How does it feel to take a deep breath of fresh air?
  • What does Holy Spirit breath feel like inside you?
  • What promise did God make to Noah? And to you?

 PRAY

God, you give the breath of life. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we can live in a way that shows our love for you and our love for other people? Thanks for promising not to destroy all flesh again. Instead, you’ve made another way. In Jesus, we have the hope of new life. Come soon, Lord. Amen.

BLESS & DO

Add the next picture to your tree.

Draw a rainbow and give it to someone to bless them.


Materials adapted from: https://www.faithward.org/jesse-tree/, http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-jesse-tree-printable-pictures.html                 

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