Christmas is the season of giving— and there is no better gift than to share the light of Christ. This gift can be shared with anyone and everyone. It need not cost much, if any, money. It can fit into any schedule and budget. And it can be as simple as small acts of service, yet a powerful way to honor Him whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime.
Jesus Christ Himself said that He was the light and life of the world, and those who follow Him will have the light of life (John 8:12). President Thomas S. Monson said,
Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.
Lights are symbolic of Christmas, but light is meant to be shared. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is focusing on sharing the light of service with others this Christmas season with their #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative. Of this, Elder David A Bednar said,
These are very simple things that the Savior has provided the example. And we, in a very appropriate, simple way during this Christmas season, can do the same things that He did. He healed the blind. We can help the blind to see. We might, for example, read a story to someone in a nursing home who cannot see. Doesn’t take a lot of time, but a small, simple act of service that exemplifies the Light of Christ.
So how can we share our lights with others this holiday season? Here are just a few ways.
Share the Light of Kindness
Kindness is perhaps one of the simplest gestures but it can make a lasting impression no matter what the season— but especially during the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said,
Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.
Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.
Kindness and love are attributes that they Savior taught in word and in deed. Elder Wirthlin said,
Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance.
Kindness shines a light that can spread throughout our Christmas season. As Elder Wirthlin said,
Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?
The Christmas season brings more people and longer lines at the post office, grocery stores and malls. And we seem to have more to do to get ready for Christmas and buy gifts for one another. It doesn’t take much to offer a kind work or wait patiently for our turn, but who knows what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?
Give the Gift of Gratitude
Gratitude is another simple yet powerful gift that we can give to others— especially to our Savior. It is too easy to get caught up in the glitz and the glitter of Christmas gifts.. But that is not where we find a spirit of gratitude. President Monson said,
Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.
President Henry B. Eyring said,
Sometimes it is hard for us to be sufficiently grateful for the greatest gifts we receive: the birth of Jesus Christ, His Atonement, the promise of resurrection, the opportunity to enjoy eternal life with our families, the Restoration of the gospel with the priesthood and its keys. Only with the help of the Holy Ghost can we begin to feel what those blessings mean for us and for those we love. And only then can we hope to be thankful in all things and avoid the offense to God of ingratitude. …
We all can make the choice to give thanks in prayer and to ask God for direction to serve others for Him—especially during this time of year when we celebrate the Savior’s birth.
In addition, we can show our gratitude to those around us— including the postal carriers, bus drivers and grocery store cashiers. Pure gratitude comes not from what we are given but from the goodness that we see around us and in others.
Spread Some Christmas Cheer
The spirit of Christmas is the tingle of excitement in the air at this time of year. But what is it, really? President Monson taught,
To catch the real meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.
The Spirit of Christ is pure love. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said,
The spirit of Christmas makes us all more charitable, thoughtful, and kind. We are taught in the scriptures that “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”8 That feeling which compels even the most cantankerous soul to show brotherly kindness at Christmastime comes from God. How much more are those who are already seeking to become like the Savior filled with love and compassion at this season? The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love. The way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out generously to those around us and give of ourselves. The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time. I have learned from my great-grandfather Stringham sometimes it is the small and simple acts which have the biggest impact.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love.
One of the greatest definitions of showing Christlike love is found in the scriptures.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:35-40).
Pure, Christlike love is being kind and generous just for the sake of being kind and generous. We can visit nursing homes, hospitals and extended care facilities. And there is no better way to spread Christmas cheer.
Rediscover the Joy of Service
Christmas is an excellent time to remember those who are often forgotten, or lonely, or just live far away from us. We can write letters to parents, grandparents, siblings or other relatives who live far away. We can also participate in humanitarian efforts such as Sub for Santa programs and donating to charities. President Monson said,
As we lift our eyes heavenward and then remember to look outward into the lives of others, as we remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive, we, during this Christmas season, will come to see a bright, particular star that will guide us to our precious opportunity.
These opportunities are endless, and limited only to our own imaginations. President Monson taught,
I am confident there are within our sphere of influence those who are lonely, those who are ill, and those who feel discouraged. Ours is the opportunity to help them and to lift their spirits. The Savior brought hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He healed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. Throughout His ministry He reached out in charity to any in need. As we emulate His example, we will bless lives, including our own.
Remember the True Meaning of Christmas
The goal of service is to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas comes as we again recognize the gift that God gave to us, His Son, Jesus Christ. President Monson said,
With the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment—a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to become the King of kings and Lord of lords, the promised Messiah—Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. To us He has said, “Come, follow me.”
As President Howard W. Hunter said,
This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.
Christmas is a celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of its true meaning—with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself unselfishly in the things that matter most.