(I have been meaning to write this post for well over a month. In fact, it might have been more useful to others if I had shared my Advent ideas while it was still Advent, but you'll have to tuck this away for Advent 2013! I am writing it now so I will remember myself.)
Way back in Term 1 we had learnt about the liturgical seasons. I was very pleased that so many of the children were able to recall things we had done that long ago. It gives me hope! This term we had focused on different forms of prayer and we had been reading the Old Testament stories in our daily scripture time. The Jesse Tree Liturgy tied all of these things together nicely and was a fitting end-of-year celebration.
We learnt about the Jesse Tree in class prior to the liturgy and had made a bulletin board display. (The colours are not the best - I was using up the scraps of cardboard etc in the room - but it was a simple display idea.)
Each child made an "ornament" to place on the tree on the bulletin board. The ornaments show a picture or a symbol that the student felt represented person in their story. There are lots of websites that have lists of Jesse Tree symbols and they are not all the same. I kept searching until I found one that had the right number of symbols so each child got one and I also looked for one that had a fair proportion of women represented as well.
The words on the sign say: "The Jesse Tree is a symbol of Advent. The symbols remind us of the stories from the Old Testament that point to the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of David and was Jesus' great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather." I think there are supposed to be about 24 "great"s but I don't think my kids were bothered with counting them.
On the last morning of school we had a prayer celebration to end our year. You can access the words of the liturgy from my TeachersPayTeachers site.
The songs I used were by Michael Mangan from his This is the Time (Songs for Seasons) Album. The children were already familiar with these songs. You could easily substitute other hymns or carols.
The students made their own symbols (white paper circle glued onto a slightly larger coloured circle) and they glued the words for their prayer on the back so they stood up, read their prayer and placed it on the tree in a reasonably seamless manner.
Just as we started the liturgy I realised I didn't have any matches to light the candle. Luckily I was able to download a free Candle app on my iPad mini and save the day!