The following is from the Parish Bulletin - Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011:
The Jesse Tree and its symbols help us remember and reflect on who we are as Christians. For each day of Advent stories from the history of God's people are told covering the time period from the story of Creation to the story of the birth of Christ. Each story is marked by a symbol and that symbol is place on a tree - the Jesse Tree - which represents the line of descendants from Jesse, the father of David to Jesus, the Messiah. The symbols help us to think about our history as the people of God. As we wait for the second coming of Jesus we remember how the birth of Jesus brought hope and love into the world according to God's promise.
The following information comes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_Jesse
In the New Testament the lineage of Jesus is traced by two of the Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke. Luke describes the "generations of Christ" in Chapter 3 of Luke's Gospel, beginning with Jesus himself and tracing backwards through his "earthly father" Joseph all the way to Adam.
Matthew's Gospel opens with the words: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham". With this beginning Matthew makes clear Jesus' whole lineage: He is of God's chosen people, by his descent from Abraham, and he is the "shoot of Jesse" by his descent from Jesse's son, King David. The figures shown are drawn from the genealogies in the Gospels, usually showing only a selection.