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Posts Tagged ‘Jesse tree stories’

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The Emperor of Rome wanted to count all the people in his Empire. He wanted to know how many there were so that he would know if they were paying enough taxes.

silhouette of man, donkey, and woman against the moonSo that people didn’t accidentally get counted twice, he ordered that everyone go to the town their family came from, and stay there until they had been counted.

Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, the town of David, because David was their ancestor.
Mary and Joseph turned away from the innWhen they got to the town, there was nowhere for them to stay. Joseph was very worried, because Mary was about to have her baby.

At last, someone found them a place in a stable. It wasn’t a very good place, but at least it was dry, and out of the cold and the wind. And there,in a small country town, in a land on the edge of the great Roman Empire, in a poor stable, Jesus was born.

In the nearby hills, shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep. Suddenly they saw a bright light. It was an angel!

Angel hovers over two frightened shepherds‘Do not be afraid,’ said the angel. ‘I have news that will make you very happy. A baby has been born in Bethlehem, and he has come to save the whole world. You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’

Then the whole sky was filled with angels, singing Glory to God.

The shepherds hurried into town, and they found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, just as the angel said.
Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Shepherds, and a whole procession of others coming to see the baby

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Joseph was a carpenter who lived in Nazareth. He was betrothed to Mary. At that time, ‘betrothed’ meant that they had made their marriage promises but did not live together yet. Joseph was building a house for Mary, and Mary was making nice things to go in the house.

When Mary told Joseph that she was going to have a baby, he was very sad. He knew he was not the baby’s father, and he didn’t believe Mary when she said that God was the baby’s father.

Joseph didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to bring Mary to his home if she was lying to him, but he didn’t want to tell people either, because he was afraid they might hurt Mary.

He decided he would send Mary away somewhere so that she could have the baby without anyone knowing.

But that night an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream. ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. It is by the Holy Spirit she has conceived. She will bear a son, and you will call him Jesus.’

Joseph was very happy. He went and told Mary, and he brought Mary to live in the house he had built for her.

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Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Mary admiring the new babyElizabeth and Zechariah lived near the Temple. Zechariah served God as a priest, and Elizabeth looked after their home. They were happy to be close to God. But they were sad that they had never had any children. Now they were growing old, and Elizabeth was past the age for having children.

But God spoke to Zechariah when he was working in the temple. He told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would have a son.

Zechariah did not believe God. So God gave Zechariah a sign. He made Zechariah’s voice stop working. He said that when the baby was born, Zechariah must call the baby John, and John would be a prophet of God, sent to make the people ready for the Lord.

Zechariah had to write everything down, because he couldn’t talk.

Soon, Elizabeth gave Zechariah some good news. Even though she was old, she was having a baby!

While they were waiting for the baby, Elizabeth’s cousin Mary came to visit. When Elizabeth saw Mary far off in the distance, she felt John give a great jump in her womb. She called out to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb. Who am I that the mother of my Lord should visit me? For my child leapt with joy when I saw you, and I knew that you are carrying the Lord.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth until the child was born.

When it was time to name the baby, Zechariah wrote: “His name is John.” At that moment, his voice returned, and he gave praise to God.

John grew up to be a great prophet. The people came from far away to hear him speak. He called the people to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord.

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Angel comes to MaryGod sent the angel Gabriel to a girl called Mary.

Mary was a daughter of the house of David – that means that David was her many times great grandfather. She was betrothed to Joseph, who was also of the house of David. (In those days, being betrothed meant the man and woman made their wedding promises in front of their friends. They then went to their separate homes until the man had made a house, and the woman had made things to go in the house.)

The angel said to Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.” The angel said: “Do not be afraid. You have found favour with God. You will conceive a baby, and bear a son. You will name Him Jesus. He will be called the son of the Most High, and God will give Him the throne of David. He will rule the children of Israel for ever and His Kingdom will have no end.”

Mary said, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel explained that the Holy Spirit would make the baby begin in Mary’s womb. He also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was having a baby.

Mary said, “I am God’s servant. Let it be as you say.”

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The king of Babylon, Ahasuerus, sent out his servants to find him a queen. They chose the most beautiful girls in all of the country, and brought them to the palace, so that the king could choose. One of the girls was called Esther.

Esther had a secret. She was really called Hadassah and she was a Jew.

The king’s advisor, Haman, hated the Jews. He wanted to have them all killed. To keep herself safe, Esther needed to keep her secret. Esther wondered why God had let her be taken to the palace where she was in such danger.

Esther was beautiful and smart. The king liked her best of all the girls. He chose her to be his queen.

Meanwhile, Haman was telling lies to the king to make his angry with the Jews. Haman made a plan to send soldiers to kill all the Jews. He knew it would be easy, because the Jews were not allowed to have any weapons. The king said that Haman could carry out his wicked plan.

When Mordecai heard about the plan, he sent a message to Esther, asking her to talk to the king. Now, Esther lived in the queen’s palace. She was not allowed to go to the king unless he sent for her.  She knew that if she made the king angry, he would have her head cut off. The king could get a new queen, but Esther could not get a new head.

Mordecai told her that God had put her in the palace so that she could save his people. Esther agreed to try.

She put on her best clothes, and she went to see the king, and she invited him and Haman to come and have lunch with him. The king was pleased to see her, and came to lunch.

Haman was proud that he had been invited to lunch.  But he was not happy when the king told Esther that he was pleased with her and would give her anything she wanted! Esther told the king that she wanted her life, and the life of her people, because there was a man who plotted to kill them all.

The king was angry. ‘Who would plot against my queen?’ he asked.

Esther explained that she was a Jew, and that Haman had plotted against her.

The king had Haman executed, and appointed Mordecai as his adviser instead. He made a new law that the Jews could carry weapons, and that they could kill those who tried to kill them.

Thanks to the courage of Esther, the Jews were saved.

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Man surrounded by lions, and protected by an angelDaniel was the favourite adviser of the king of Babylon.

The other advisers were jealous of Daniel. They decided to set a trap for him.

They suggested to the king that all the people in Babylon should bow to his statue and worship only his statue for a whole month. The king thought this was a very good idea. “What if someone doesn’t bow?” said one adviser. “How about we throw him to the lions?” said another.

The king agreed, and made it a royal decree. Then the advisers told the king that Daniel would not worship him but continued saying his prayers to God.

The king was very sad, because he loved Daniel. But he had made a law, and so Daniel was thrown into the den of lions. The king went home and spent the night fasting.

In the morning, he hurried to the den of lions. Daniel was alright! God had sent an angel to shut the lions mouths! The king was very glad, and commanded that Daniel be set free.

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Soldiers marshalling people for a marchFinally, God allowed the king of the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites. His army caught Zedekiah the king, and the king killed the sons of Zedekiah, and all the officers of the army and Zedekiah himself.

Then the Babylonian army burned down the temple, and the palace, and all the great houses of Jerusalem. They carried the people away into Babylon to be workers there.

The people were very sad to be made to leave Jerusalem. They lived in Babylon for a long time, but they never forgot their home.

As they grew old, they taught their children about Jerusalem, and about God. They taught their children about Abraham and Moses. They told the children that God had protected them in the promised land as long as they obeyed God, and that if they loved God and obeyed him, one day they could go home.

Some of the children forgot about God and worshipped the gods of Babylon. But some remembered God always and taught their children, who taught their children.

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After Ahab, the Israelites had many bad kings. They were unjust, they prayed to false gods, and they didn’t look after their people. The prophet Habakkuk looked around him and he was very sad at what he saw. People were fighting. They were cruel to each other. They were always doing bad things. Habukkuk asked God why he didn’t punish the bad people.

God told Habukkuk that the Babylonians were coming; they would plunder Israel, and God would let them. Habukkuk was shocked. He knew that Israel deserved to be punished, but he also knew that the Babylonians were wicked, too.

God said that one day other nations would attack Babylon, and it would be destroyed.

Habukkuk said that he didn’t understand, but he trusted God, and he would watch and wait. Habukkuk told people that God would punish Israel, but would protect those who loved God.

Habukkuk’s symbol is a watchtower because he was watching for the coming of the Babylonians, but he was also watching for the coming of the Messiah, who would rule with justice.

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Not all the kings of Israel were good. When the kings were bad, God sent a prophet to lead them and the people back to God.

There was a king called Ahab who did not listen to God’s prophet. His wife Jezebel hated God, and tried to kill all of his prophets. She wanted the people of Israel to worship her false god, Baal, instead.

Elijah meets Jezabel and Ahab

Elijah denounces Jezabel and Ahab

Elijah went to the palace and told Ahab, “You must stop worshipping these false Gods, or God will make your land dry up like a desert. There will be no rain until I ask Him.”

Ahab would not listen, and Jezebel sent her soldiers to kill Elijah. But he hid in the hills where there was water to drink. Every day, God sent big black birds called ravens with food for Elijah. While the rest of the country was going hungry and thirsty, Elijah had plenty to eat and drink.

After three years, Elijah and the priests of Baal had a contest. 800 priests of Baal tried to set fire to wood on an altar by praying to their false God. They tried very hard, but no fire fell. Then it was Elijah’s turn. Elijah made the altar and put wood and the sacrifice on it. Then he poured four jars of water on the altar. He did this three times. Then he prayed to God – and God sent fire from heaven. It lit the water-soaked wood and the wood and the sacrifice were burned in a mighty fire.

The people all shouted: “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!

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