Christmas Countdown Day 17: The Great Christmas Lights Adventure

Our Advent Scripture for Day 18 is Luke 1:57-66.

Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her His great mercy, and they rejoiced with her.

When they came to circumcise the child on the eighth day,they were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But his mother responded, “No! He will be called John.”

Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.”So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote:

HIS NAME IS JOHN.

And they were all amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard about him took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.

Monday night, we jumped in the car after dinner, cranked the heat, and set off for adventure. Our mission was to discover the best outdoor Christmas light displays in our town. When we found ones the kids thought were amazing, I would hop out and take a photo, and then we voted at the end of the night for the best.

We weaved through streets hunting for lights. Some neighborhoods were illuminated from the abundance of Christmas lights on this dark night. Others sat dark and cold. The kids gravitated toward the displays with blow-ups on the front lawns. Matt and I really liked the homes outlined in lights. We saw many manger scenes, and each were special.

At the end of the night, we drove out to see a particularly large Nativity scene we knew about outside of town, but after going further than we intended, we realized the lights weren’t on. In fact, we couldn’t hardly even see the house from the highway. What a difference light can make in the darkness!

Jackson fell asleep on the way home. Lauren was close when we pulled in the driveway.

Here is the kids’ first place winner of our first annual Christmas Lights Adventure:

The kids loved how many blow-up decorations there were in this yard. It wins first prize in our hunt!

The kids loved how many blow-up decorations there were in this yard. It wins first prize in our hunt!

This was second place:

This photo doesn't do justice to how spectacular these lights were!  Attention was on the details, including landing skid marks from Santa's sleigh.

This photo doesn’t do justice to how spectacular these lights were! Attention was on the details, including landing skid marks from Santa’s sleigh.

If you live in our area, check out the Southern Hills subdivision and Ash Street right off of James. Some of the best light displays can be found there.

Get out and enjoy the lights of the season! And, be a light to those around you proclaiming the birth of the Savior!

Christmas Countdown Day 16: Hope

Our Advent Scripture passage for Day 16 is Luke 1:46-56.

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.

And Mary stayed with her about three months; then she returned to her home.

Christmas begins with Christ. 

Throughout the ages, people have embraced Jesus, asking for His mercy to wash over them, just as He did for the lowly shepherds who first received the Good News that the Messiah had come. Sadly, there are many, many more who do not.

The audience was invited to sing along at the end of the church musical Sunday.

The audience was invited to sing along at the end of the church musical Sunday.

Sunday night, our family activity was watching our church’s Christmas musical, entitled “The Hope of Christmas.” What resonated for me in the production was that usually church musicals wrap the plot line with a neatly tied red bow, making everything right in the world. But, everything is not right in our world. Our eyes still behold injustice, corruption and murder. Our ears are battered with arguments, posturing and criticism. Our hearts ache from abuse, betrayal and loneliness. Family, friends and others reject the message of hope at Christmas, though we are desperate for them to believe and receive His peace. In the musical, several of the main characters chose to not follow Jesus, except one who finally believes.

Maybe this Christmas, you are short on hope. You’ve prayed for so long for your spouse, or parent, a wayward child or a dear friend to finally yield their hearts to Jesus, and they’ve refused. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with a very difficult situation, and you’ve strained to see that light at the end of the tunnel only to be greeted with heavy darkness.

Look to the skies. See the opened heavens proclaiming good news of great joy and peace for all people, even you. Jesus is alive!! Because He lives, hope can never die.

Keep sharing, keep believing, keep trusting. Jesus’s love for you and for them will not falter.

There is still hope this Christmas, in Christ.