December 6, 2012

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18

It’s that time of year again—time to light the National Christmas Tree!

And yes, it takes place in a national park.  The 90th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on the Ellipse at President’s Park in Washington, D.C. It begins at 4:30 p.m. tonight, and you can view it live at (in case you miss it, PBS will also be broadcasting it throughout December). The program is presented by the National Park Service and The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.

Of course, a tree lighting wouldn’t be complete without music. The pre-show will feature The Midtown Men, four stars from the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys. During the actual show/ceremony, hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris, the band The Fray; the U.S. Naval Band Commodores; pianist Evan Shinners; and singers Jason Mraz, James Taylor, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Colbie Caillat and Phillip Phillips will perform. Actor Rico Rodriguez from television’s Modern Family also will appear (he just released a book, “Reel Life Lessons…So Far”—hey, he stole my title!). And, of course, President Obama and his family will flip the switch to light the tree (read all about the performers here).

Now, lest you think all this hoopla is being paid for by your tax dollars, please note that there are sponsors. The premier one is UL (Underwriters Laboratory), described as a “global safety organization” (you’ve undoubtedly seem its tags on tons of products). Its sponsorship is part of the company’s national safety campaign to educate consumers on how to keep their homes safe, especially during the holidays.

The statistics UL cites about fire risks this time of year are sobering: fires cause over $18 million dollars worth of property damage and injuries, and send more than 13,000 people to the emergency room. Fire sources include dry trees, damaged lights, frayed extension cords and unattended candles.

The apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while he was imprisoned in Rome under persecution by the emperor Nero. He was cold and alone in his cell (4:10-12) and was aware his death was near (4:6-8). Some friends had remained faithful, but others had deserted him (4:9-16, 19-21).

And yet—Paul could conclude this last epistle with hope. “The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me,” he assured Timothy (4:17), and he knew God would fully deliver him soon.

Hazards, difficulties, tests and trials—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual—surround us not only at Christmastime but all year around. Sometimes the happy holiday atmosphere only serves to intensify those problems. But no matter how alone we may feel, we’re not really. There is a Friend who sticks close (Proverbs 18:24), who will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and who has the power to help us in this world and deliver us to the next, where we will bask in His glorious presence, all problems forgotten (Revelation 21:4, 22:3-4).

Better than a UL guarantee!

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