The Christmas lights are up on the houses. Why are Christmas lights either tacky or boring? It's really hard to get that mix of perfection that lies somewhere between the two. I consider myself a Christmas light connoisseur, so I've compiled a brief check list of how to reach Christmas light Utopia. So without further adieu:
1. Unless you're going 100%, leave the trees alone. Ugh. Let's start this list off with a bang. Nothing turns me into a scrooge faster than seeing some shriveled up tree with one strand of lights haphazardly twisting halfway up its trunk. Like a four year old wanted to help and you said "sure honey, just go wrap this strand around that tree." Like the abominable snowman was ravenous and ate half of a lighted candy cane, leaving the rest of it in your yard as a warning to travelers that danger lurked near. What it really looks like is you were too lazy to go to the garage to get a ladder and finish the rest of the tree. Just. Plain. Sloppy.
2. Don't throw a strand of lights on a bush and call it decorating. Go for broke and buy one of those light nets. Ooh, fancy.
3. Involve a complex color scheme. White lights? yawn. White AND blue lights? Ooh. What a rebel. Come on, mix it up. But be careful. Too much craziness will quickly segue into a Christmas light conundrum. Mix icicle lights and epileptic seizure-inducing strobe snowflake lawn stakes? Woah. Take it easy there, cowboy.
4. You can never have too many inflatable items in your display. Fake snow globe with a snowman? Awesome. Santa with a reindeer? Sweet. Blow up Nativity scene? Even better. A nativity scene in a snow globe with Santa dressed as a shepherd worshiping at Jesus' manger? Christmas Utopia.
5. Two words. Live Animals.
6. Time it to Manheim Steamroller or the Trans Siberian Orchestra. That's the kind of stuff that gets you on the news.
7. Hire 24 hour security to patrol the property watching for obnoxious little newspaper delivery boys who unscrew unsuspecting victims' Christmas light bulbs and bust them on the ground because they like the sound it makes. (looking at you, Trevor.)
8. Take your lights down at the end of Christmas. At least by March. I'm talking to you. Yeah, you. You know who you are. The crafty one who thinks no one notices that you leave your lights up the ENTIRE year. Just because you don't turn them on doesn't mean we don't know they're there. We do. And we resent you for it. While we're outside in November untangling spools of Christmas lights, you're inside sitting by the fire watching "It's a Wonderful Life." That is not what Christmas spirit is all about. It's about suffering in the cold, arguing with your kids, and getting mildly electrocuted.
This Christmas season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs for our family. Aidan is getting old enough that we've embraced the traditions of baking cookies, seeing Santa, going on Horse-drawn sleigh rides, the works. But there's been tragedy all around us as well.
It makes you examine your priorities and refocus on the true reason for this Holiday we celebrate. I haven't been able to get my mind off of the immeasurable love that God has for us. Scriptures like Romans 5, which speaks about the amazing love Christ showed to us by dying while we were still in our sin keep coming to mind. The past few days my thoughts have focused on the person of Christ. I want to continue to know Him more and dig deeper into who He is.
I remembered hearing a speaker talk briefly about the gifts of the Magi and decided to study it some more. Each gift given to Jesus sheds light on a different side of who He is. I'm going to spend the next three days going over each gift.
Today's gift is Frankincense. Frankinwhat? It's not the most attractive of gifts, but it holds quite a value. In fact, at certain times it was worth even MORE than gold. It came from the resin from a certain tree, and the tree bark actually had to be wounded from an outside source to leak the resin. During Old Testament times, it was used in the temple as an incense that was burned during religious ceremonies.
Because of its use, many believe that frankincense symbolizes Jesus' role as the high priest. The writer of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the High Priest various times:
Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.
Before Jesus fulfilled the law, it was necessary for the priests to offer sacrifices to God in ceremonies on behalf of the people of Israel. Jesus, as our High Priest (our representative to God, because he has lived as man like us), came before God on our behalf and offered himself as the sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
What an amazing love! What a complete relief for us. We have been completely shackled by the wages of our sin, but here we have an opportunity to be free. It reminds me of watching a baseball game where a batter comes up and hits a bunt of a pop fly to give one of his teammates on base the chance to run home. They call it a sacrifice play. Giving up yourself to save your teammate. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice play. He wrote the book on sacrifice plays.
Because of Jesus' humility and sacrifice, our entire lives are changed. We no longer cower in the shadows. We no longer feel we must hide from the certain condemnation of our mistakes. We accept the grace of God. We put on His righteousness like a priceless mantle. We cling fast to the truth that we serve a God who is powerful to cleanse us from all righteousness, and that we have a mediator, a High Priest in Heaven interceding on our behalf.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We must remember that we are who we are because of who He is. On Christmas He came as a baby, but He will always be our High Priest.