Tag Archives: Advent

Day 11 & Update on Jesse Tree!

Due to illness, “Tales from the Jesse Tree” will be on brief hiatus for the next few days as I try to get my voice in working condition!

Christmas by Heart is almost complete!!! Thanks to Ann Timmons for her wisdom for Day 11.

Christmas by Heart: Day 10

Almost there! Last two videos will be released Monday and Tuesday. Have a great weekend!


Day 10

Christmas by Heart: Day 9

Christmas by Heart: Day 8

Thanks to Mark Davis for his wisdom! Check out his blog: leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.com to read even more of his thoughtful exegetical work!

Day 8

Christmas by Heart: Day 7

Here you go!!!

Day 7

Christmas by Heart: Day 6

Thanks again to my friend and speaking coach, Ann Timmons–she rocks!


Christmas by Heart: Day 5

Before we get to the video:
A Quick Podcast Update

Experiencing technical difficulties–the latest podcast of “Tales from the Jesse Tree” (Episode 5) will not be up until Sunday or Monday. Until then, your story assignment is this: What is your favorite biblical story? Look it up and read it–out loud. Then consider the ways you see God in the story–and the ways you find yourself in the story.

Day 5

(Day 6 will not be released until Monday…have a great weekend!)

Christmas by Heart: Day 4



Christmas by Heart: Day 1

 1 Story
12 Days

I love worshiping during Advent and Christmas…but for years, the bane of my liturgy-planning existence was figuring out my Christmas Eve message for the 5p.m. Christmas Eve service–you know, the one with hoards of children, many of whom have not been to church in a year, all of whom are a little excited with Christmas fever. We don’t preach a full sermon at that service, but have tried to stick to a standard format, which means there is time for a short meditation. Every year that I’ve been in charge I’ve struggled to create something accessible to children and adults, that can capture their collective attention. Mostly it’s resulted in fairly-lame attempts to be funny or relevant. All that changed the year I decided to tell the story by heart. What more could I possibly add to the wonder of the story of God’s coming to be with us in the form of an infant? I have come to realize that especially on Christmas Eve, especially at that service, the story is enough. If I can enter into the wonder of it as a storyteller, I can invite others to wonder with me.

Whether you’re telling at home or in worship…do tell! This 12 day series (to be released on weekdays) will help you learn and wonder as your commit the Luke 2 birth narrative to heart. If you participated in the #storyonfire series, this one will have a little overlap, but will certainly be different. I am most excited about the contributions by Mark Davis (who will help us consider the context and translation of the story), and Ann Timmons (who will provide tips for telling)!



About the Contributors


The Rev. Dr. D. Mark Davis

Ordained in 1996, Mark Davis holds a Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics and Culture from the University of Iowa and a D. Min. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia. He is the author of two books: “Talking About Evangelism,” (May 2006), and “Left Behind and Loving It (Fall 2011), he blogs intensive Bible studies regularly at http://leftbehindandlovingit.blogspot.com,and is a frequent contributor to The Politics of Scripture blog. Mark is a music lover who sings and plays the saxophone. Mark and his wife, Chris, have four children ranging in age from 12 to 23 .

Ann Timmons

Ann Timmons is a communications artist, actor, director and playwright. In her work as a communications artist, she helps clients discover and embrace their unique leadership presence. Clients include current political leaders at the local, state and national levels, as well as national association leaders and executives. Currently, Ann teaches in both the School of Communications and School of Public Affairs at American University. She also consults as a valued speech coach to nonprofit executives, business leaders, and elected officials.

Ann is committed to creating work that examines preconceptions and “received truths” through the prism of history. Her original one-woman show, Off the Wall The Life and Works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, premiered Off-Broadway at the Samuel Beckett Theatre prior to a nation-wide tour that spanned 16 years. Her most recent work is Becoming Calvin, a play commissioned by the Reformed Institute of  Metropolitan Washington. Becoming Calvin explores the lives of characters living at the crossroads of history, caught up in the complex relationships between royalty and Rome, leaders of the Church and leaders of state. The play takes the audience on a journey with one extraordinary young scholar as he realizes his destiny, as it asks the question: What would you give up for your freedom? Ann has won grants and commissions for her original plays, including Beyond Shadowlands, The Home/Place Play, and The Jamestown Adventure Express(commissioned for America’s 400th Anniversary Celebration).

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, she received her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Illinois. Ann is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors’ Equity Association and  SAG-AFTRA. Visit her website at www.anntimmons.com.

Our CHRISTMAS Story: Part 2

Our Christmas Story

Did you miss part 1? You can find it HERE.

the NAME game

1. You’ll need your printed story and something to write with! (Below is the same story from Part 1)

Luke 2 1_20 Name Epidsodes Luke 2 1_20 Name Epidsodes page 2











2. The story has been broken into sections, which are called “episodes.” Alone or with others, name each episode–give each episode a 1-3 word title that will help you remember what happened. For example, I might name episode 1 “The Enrollment”. If you are using a different version, you can break it up into parts based on my translation, or choose your own parts…then write your episode names in the left margin. For the younger set, this is a chance to list the main parts of the story (i.e., Joseph goes to Nazareth, Mary has the baby, etc.).

3. Once you have finished naming the episodes, fold your paper(s) along the vertical line, so that you can ONLY see the episode names. Now, try to tell the story to a partner!

Once More, with FEELING!

1. Print the “Emotion Cards” sheet (link below) and cut out the words to make your Emotion Cards.



2. Everyone chooses an emotion card. One verse at a time, participants should take turns reading the lines with their assigned emotion (everyone reads the same verse, then when every one is done, move on to the next verse):

While they were there, the time came for her to have her baby.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son
and wrapped him in bands of cloth,
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.


Then an angel of the Lord stood before them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.


“Do not be afraid; for see—
I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…”


“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”


But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

I have also included a PDF of the quotesHERE.

How are you…REALLY?

1. The “Once More…with Feeling!” activity is a fun way to try out different emotions in the text. Now take some time to consider how the different characters in the story felt.

How do you think

the angel
the shepherds


How can you tell?

2. TELL!!! Pick one of the emotions…tell a story about a time you felt that emotion.

3. Try telling the story from Luke 2 using only your episode titles again

STAY TUNED for Part 3 of Our CHRISTMAS Story…coming soon!