Episco-Fact #118
December 6, 2018

What are some of the traditions surrounding the Season of Advent that have not been discussed on these pages?

As mentioned last week traditions for Advent have varied over time, being less definitive than those for Easter, the holiest day in the Christian year. In Mediaeval times the preaches themes of Advent were: Heaven, Hell, Judgement, and the Second Coming. The current tradition is the Second Coming, the Prophets as exemplified by John the Baptist, the purification/repentance, and the coming of Jesus.

In home traditions of the United States are probably more likely to focus on Christmas theme, but enhancing those themes with an Advent Wreath, with four candles, representing the weeks of Advent is practiced and encouraged within the Episcopal Church. Embedded in this Episco-fact is a four-week liturgy for families to light the Advent Wreath candles in their homes. It seems fitting that this service does not detract from Christmas feeling, but adds to the theology of the season. http://www.ecfvp.org/uploads/tools/files/Advent_Wreath_Pamphlet_Prayers_and_Reflections_Booklet.pdf

Another popular tradition is the Jesse Tree. Jesus, as Luke tells us very specifically and Matthew tells us somewhat less directly, is from the family of David, son of Jesse, hence the verse from Isaiah that is read at this time of year:

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11: 1-2)

During the Middle Ages, the Church used the Jesse tree as a teaching tool. The tree is hung with ornaments naming, illustrating, and recording the Biblical story from Creation to the birth of Jesus, especially highlighting the luminaries: Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Habbakuk, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Jesus. If one is doing a summary of the Bible, learning the stories behind these persons would be a great start. If you would like to know how to create a Jesse Tree and to read about the stories, this website is a good place to start: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/liturgical-year/advent/the-jesse-tree.

In addition, this site will urge, one more time, to take up a Prayer discipline around the Book of Common Prayer by reading the assigned lectionary for this period, Year 1, found on page 936 and 938, or to read one of the Daily Offices found between page 37 and 135).