'Jesse tree' at Catholic school in Oklahoma City shares holiday lesson

The premise of the ‘Jesse tree' at St. James Catholic School in Oklahoma City comes from Isaiah 11:1, which says “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
by Carla Hinton Modified: December 22, 2012 at 8:38 am •  Published: December 22, 2012

The decorations adorning an evergreen tree at one metro-area school are handmade, brightly colored and diverse.

The ornaments hanging from the “Jesse tree” at St. James Catholic School also are educational.

Principal Anne Codding said at first glance the tree looks like a typical Christmas tree decorated with colorful baubles and tinsel. However, Codding said the handcrafted items hanging from the Jesse tree represent a person in Jesus' lineage and events leading to His birth.

She said the premise of the Jesse tree comes from Isaiah 11:1, which says, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

Creating a Jesse tree is a way to bring Jesus' family tree to life for students, Codding said.

“It's a teaching tree. It teaches the kids and their parents about the lineage of Jesus,” she said.

“It's also their personal roots as Christians.”

Codding said she previously had her classes make a Jesse tree each Christmas when she was a teacher. She said the custom is rooted in medieval times. Codding said that, as a principal, she realized the special tree is something the entire school can be part of.

“I wanted to do something with religious significance,” she said.

Each class at St. James, 1224 SW 41, from prekindergarten through eighth grade, was responsible for creating an ornament for the tree. For example, the kindergartners made ornaments representing Joseph's coat of many colors, and the fourth-graders created rainbow ornaments to represent Noah.

Second-graders made ladder ornaments from craft sticks to represent Jacob, while fifth-graders made Ten Commandment ornaments to symbolize Moses.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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