St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral


Tree of Jesse
Sunday of the Ancestors of Christ

From the root of Jesse according to the flesh, Thou didst bud forth the ever-virgin one, and wast incarnate of her, and wast born of her for the redemption of the human race. (From the first prayer of the Service of Crowning)

The ancestry of Jesus is traced in the Gospel of Luke from Joseph back to Adam. In Matthew, however, the generations are traced from Abraham down to Joseph. The message of the Gospels is that Our Lord Jesus Christ is linked both to Adam - he is a true descendent of our first father, and is thus related to all of us - and to Abraham - he is a true descendent of the patriarchs, one of God's chosen people.

That the Lord is descended from David, the son of Jesse, is considered to be very important, for David is the great King of Israel, the King against whom all subsequent rulers were and are measured, the one from whose royal lineage the Savior and Messiah of Israel of was expected to come. A key text in this regard comes from the prophecy of Isaiah: Because a child has been for us, a son too has been given to us, whose rule was upon his shoulder, and his name is called Angel of great counsel, wondrous counsellor, mighty God, potentate, prince of peace, father of the age to come; for I shall bring peace upon the princes, peace and health to him. Great is his rule and of his peace there is no limit upon the throne of David and his kingdom to establish it and assist it with judgement and with justice from now and for ever; the zeal of the Lord Sabaoth will do all this (Isaiah 9:1-7).

Another potent seasonal image also comes from Isaiah: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots (Isaiah 11:1). The image of the Tree of Jesse is found especially in Advent. In this image Jesse is shown asleep and from his side springs the trunk of a tree or a vine with many branches. Within the branches are figures representing the Lord's ancestors. At the top of the tree or vine is Mary, with Jesus just above her. St Andrew of Crete writes: Blessed are you, holy Lady from the root of Jesse: from you according to the flesh sprang Christ, the rod and the flower, for our sake.

The icon that we use at the Cathedral for the two Sundays before Christmas - the Sunday of the Forebears of Christ and the Sunday of the Ancestors of Christ - is a bit different. Like the image of the Tree of Jesse, it depicts a luxuriant vine. But within its branches are the prophets of the Old Testament who foretold the coming of the Savior. The Mother of God and the Lord Jesus Christ are not shown separately, but are depicted together in a composition of the Nativity in the center of the panel.

- Fr. Andrew


Service cancellation policy:

  • No one should travel to church for services if the road conditions are dangerous.
  • No services will be cancelled.
  • Those who cannot get to services should instead stay home, give thanks to God, be happy that at least a priest and a chanter are singing the services and praying for them.

All services are held at the Cathedral unless otherwise noted.

Please watch the Messenger and website for places/times of other services.

Schedule of Services
Nativity Fast Continues
Sunday, December 21
28th Sunday After Pentecost

7:45 AM Matins @ Cathedral
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy @ Cathedral
6:15 PM Prefeast Vespers @ Cathedral

December 22
6:15 PM Prefeast Vespers

December 23
6:15 PM Prefeast Vespers

December 24
Nativity Eve
Strict Fast

9:00 AM Royal Hours
3:30 PM Christmas Carols
4:00 PM Nativity Vespers (with youth procession)
9:00 PM Compline

, December 25
Nativity of Christ
8:45 AM Festal Matins
10:00 AM Festal Divine Liturgy
5:00 PM Great Vespers

Friday, December 26
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy

Saturday, December 27
4:30 PM Jesus Prayer
5:00 PM Great Vespers
Consecration of Bishop Paul in Chicago

, December 28
29th Sunday After Pentecost

7:45 AM Matins @ Cathedral
9:00 AM Divine Liturgy @ Cathedral

NOTE: Elevators available at both the Cathedral and the Parish Center.

This Week's Events
Nativity Fast Continues
, December 22
Church Office Closed

Wednesday, December 24
Parish Center Closed

Saturday, December 27
Parish Center reserved

Sunday, December 28
NO Church School

7:30 PM Floor Hockey @ Gym


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