One of my favourite Advent helps to reflection and prayer is the Jesse Tree.
I have just finished making one for the chapel where I worship each day.
It is a simple thing. A large bare branch of a tree on which drawings of symbols of the ancestry of Jesus are hung. There will be a ladder for Jacob, a coloured coat for Joseph, a boat for Noah and so on.
These symbols reinforce for us the vital human story at the heart of the Advent preparations and the Christmas celebrations.
Jesus was, whatever else we have made him, a very human figure. Our time of preparation is after all for the celebration of his birth – a birth like any other.
His birth may cause us for a moment today to reflect on our own ancestry – how things are with us and our families. It may cause us to journey to the hard places – to things that were said that shouldn’t have been, to things that have never been said at all.
And on this journey there may be redemption – a buying back of things that were once loved and then lost.