Religion

Light the World during the Christmas season, and all year

Glenna Christensen, Idaho Statesman religion columnist
Glenna Christensen, Idaho Statesman religion columnist Idaho Statesman

Among the delights of Christmas are all the lights. Lights that adorn streets, buildings, yards and homes. No matter the color or configuration, they give off light.

I remember decorating our family tree as a child. There were strings of multicolored bulbs and bubble lights. Best of all was the tree topper — a white light glowing in a silver star — the star for the Christ child.

It is appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Savior with lights. Jesus himself said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Not only did Christ tell us he is the light, but he directed his disciples to follow him and do the things that they saw him do. And what he would have us do is also be a light to the world.

This year my Advent Calendar is a simple printed page that offers daily scriptures to inspire activities to serve those in need. It is part of the Light the World initiative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Each calendar day, from Dec. 1 to Christmas, there is not only a scripture, but an accompanying short video at mormon.org. Visitors to the site may print the calendar and view a brief Hallmark video produced for this celebration.

The service we perform may be for our families and neighbors, or we may reach out to our wider community. It may be a dollar dropped into a red kettle, a toy purchased for a child or a Christmas wish filled for a nursing home resident. The weather may produce an opportunity to shovel a walk, or exercise patience while maneuvering snow-covered streets.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Ye are the light of the world.” He then said, “Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:4,6).

There are many ways we can let our light shine. A poem entitled “Filling the Lamp” suggests simple steps:

“One thought at a time, One good deed at a time, One prayer, one smile. One scripture memorized and applied in daily life. …One obedient act. …One day lived joyously. One courageous choice. One duty done well and promptly. …One mistake fixed. One offense forgiven. One grateful expression. One kindness shown. …”

“Filling the Lamp,” Rosemary Noble Palmer

Every person is given the Light of Christ, or our conscience, when we come to this earth. That light needs both to be maintained and brightened. As we follow the inner light that God has given us, and the example of his son, Jesus Christ, we become more like him.

The Savior directs his disciples not only to love God, but to love their neighbor. Loving our neighbor is not as easy, perhaps, as loving God, because our neighbors are not perfect. Elder Larry R. Lawrence teaches that service is the real secret of learning to love others.

And through that service we follow the Savior’s commandment to be the light of the world.

“While it is a beautiful sight to see the lights of Christmas, … it is more important to have human lives illuminated by an acceptance of him who is the light of the world” said President Howard W. Hunter.

Each day, one step at a time, we can pattern our lives after the example of the Savior, the light of the world. As we accumulate more light in our spirits, we reflect his light to the world.

The Light the World campaign celebrates the life of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. By following his teachings, we let His light shine — in our lives and in the lives of others.

Join us this December to Light the World though service.

Glenna M. Christensen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.

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