Faith News

A message from St George parish church

Trees: an extended study of the significance of trees in the Bible.


When God creates all things good for human beings, a specific tree is mentioned: the Tree of Life (Gen 2. 9). It is put in the middle of the Garden of Eden: this garden planted by God (Gen 2. 8).

At the pivot point in the history of humanity is the Tree of the Cross, the life-giving tree.

History comes to an end as the Tree of Life is again mentioned. At the very end of time, it flourishes, perhaps as a group of trees, on both sides of the River of the Water of Life which flows from the Throne of God (Rev 22. 1 – 3). This is in the Holy City of the New Creation.

All through the Bible there is mention of trees and they are often used in familiar stories and events, in poetry and prophesy. They play a part in the story of redemption. In this set of reflections various aspects of trees (some admittedly fairly tenuous) will be examined. Hopefully this will lead to further thought or investigation on the part of the reader.

In general a chronological or historical approach will be used but some freedom and flexibility may also be applied if deemed appropriate or expedient.

This theme has been chosen to take us through the Trinity season because the liturgical colour for this season is green, evoking thoughts of new life, flourishing and hope.

The Jesse Tree

‘The root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples’ [ Isa 11. 10]

We are all familiar with the idea of a family tree. The family tree of Jesus (two slightly different versions) can be found in the New Testament [Mat 1.1 – 17; Luke 3. 23 – 38]. These charts of family connections look at origins and acknowledge death: ‘Like abundant leaves on a spreading tree that sheds some and puts forth others, so are the generations of flesh and blood: one dies and another is born’ [Sirach 14. 18].

One of the traditions that can be used during Advent is that of decorating the Jesse Tree. Jesse is the name of the father of King David. Isaiah prophesies: ‘a shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse’ [Isa 11. 1]. Jesus was a descendant of David and, through the Jesse Tree, Bible stories from creation to the birth of Jesus are told and appropriate motifs are hung on the branches of a bare tree.

There are many stories that can be used and the themes, motifs and stories can be extended to include followers of Jesus through the ages, including ourselves. All this expresses our hope for the coming of the Kingdom. A Jesse tree is a good alternative to an Advent calendar.

Themes that could be explored include:

Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham,
Passover, Moses, Joseph, Ruth, Hannah,
Samuel, David, Jonah, Elijah, Daniel,
John the Baptist, Mary, the Apostles,
the Saints, ourselves, the New Creation.

The coming Kingdom is described by St John in his Revelation and he says
‘The one who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’ [Rev 22. 20]

We eagerly await the coming of our Saviour.

In the beginning you gave us the tree of life;
on the tree of the cross you took away our sins;
you are the new branch of the tree of David
bringing hope to all peoples;
we welcome you, Lord Jesus Christ.