Christmas is my favorite season. I love the crispness in the air and the white snow. But above all, I love the feeling of magic that hangs in the air this time of year. Elder L. Whitney Clayton said,
Christmas has a divine ability to bring us together as families, friends, and communities. …
In A Christmas Carol, written by English author Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew captures the magic of this sacred time of year. He reflects, “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round … as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their … hearts freely, and to think of [other] people. … And therefore … , though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
I echo the sentiments of Scrooge’s nephew. One of my family’s holiday traditions is watching “A Muppet Christmas Carol.” It’s a witty retelling of the classic tale that brings home the message that happiness is not found in the pursuit of money but rather in losing yourself in loving and serving others.
That is also the message of the Savior, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. In that vein, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church) has again launched its #Light the World campaign. This year’s theme is “Give as He Gave.” Four weeks, four themes, all focused on sharing the light of Christ through service. And all designed to help us feel the magic of Christmas.
‘Give as He Gave’
The Savior set the example of love and service for others. He taught through His words and deeds that we are to seek after those who are in need of our help, even “the least of these, my brethren” (see Matthew 25:40). Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught,
Think of the simple yet dignified way our Heavenly Father chose to honor the birth of His Son. On that holy night, angels appeared not to the rich but to shepherds. The Christ child was born not in a mansion but in a manger. He was wrapped not in silk but in swaddling clothes.
The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior. Though He had created the earth, walked in realms of majesty and glory, and stood at the right hand of the Father, He came to earth as a helpless child. His life was a model of modest nobility, and He walked among the poor, the sick, the downcast, and the heavy laden. …
Jesus the Christ, who knew perfectly how to give, set for us the pattern for giving. To those whose hearts are heavy with loneliness and sorrow, He brings compassion and comfort. To those whose bodies and minds are afflicted with illness and suffering, He brings love and healing. To those whose souls are burdened with sin, He offers hope, forgiveness, and redemption.
If the Savior were among us today, we would find Him where He always was—ministering to the meek, the downcast, the humble, the distressed, and the poor in spirit.
The pattern of this year’s campaign will help us to give as He gave and love as He loved.
‘Light the World’
The first week, participants focus on serving others around the world. What that looks like depends on where you are and what you can do. Sister Cristina B. Franco said,
Our Lord and Savior ministered personally to the people, lifting the oppressed, giving hope to the discouraged, and seeking out the lost. He gave sight to the blind, healed the sick and the lame so they could walk, and raised the dead.
At Christmastime, I think of the missionaries—elders, sisters, senior missionaries, and mission presidents throughout the world—who, as representatives of Jesus Christ, give freely of their time and service to all mankind. I think of all the brothers and sisters who spend many hours serving faithfully in their callings. Also at this time, I think of all the men and women serving in the military to ensure our safety. Thank you for your service!
But even if we are not serving the Lord or our country in full-time service, our opportunities to serve are limitless. Kind words and deeds can lift burdens and cheer up hearts! Our Father in Heaven invites us all to give service.
That service could include donating your change to the Salvation Army’s bell ringers, writing Christmas letters to soldiers who are deployed or donating to a large national or international charitable organization. There are countless opportunities for serving others around the world.
‘Light Your Community’
The second week is dedicated to serving in our communities. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said,
I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class. …
Heavenly Father may have placed those who need us closest to us, knowing that we are best suited to meet their needs.
And those opportunities can come in a variety of ways. This year my husband and I were invited to attend the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle luncheon, which kicks off the season for the volunteer bell ringers. We got just a glimpse of the time and effort this group puts into organizing its army of volunteers. But I also felt the love and compassion the organizers and volunteers have for those whom they are serving. It gave me a greater appreciation for those who donate their time to man the red kettles and ring the bells, asking people to give of their change.
‘Light Your Family’
The third week is about igniting the light and love of Christ within our families. It’s sad but true that too often we take for granted those who are nearest to us. It seems to be relatively easy to look beyond ourselves to our neighbors, but what about those who live in the same house? Or even our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who live far away? Elder Uchtdorf said,
Since “no other success can compensate for failure” here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.
This is especially true at Christmastime, when we create and share beloved family traditions. Last year, we spent the holidays in Utah with our extended family. It was so much fun sharing the traditions of service my husband, children and I have created the past few years! While we have loved serving those in our community, it was a special experience to serve—and serve with—our extended family members.
‘Light Your Faith’
The week of Christmas is dedicated to lighting our own faith and evaluating how our month of service to others has strengthened our relationship to the Savior. President Thomas S. Monson said,
Among our resolutions for this year, did we resolve to make time in our lives and room in our hearts for the Savior? No matter how successful we may have been thus far with such a resolution, I am confident we all wish to do better. This Christmas season is the perfect time to examine and renew our efforts.
In our busy lives, with ever so many other things competing for our attention, it is essential that we make a conscious, committed effort to bring Christ into our lives and into our homes. And it is vital that we, like the Wise Men from the East, remain fixed upon His star and “come to worship him.”
We grow closer to Christ as we come and worship Him through service, prayer and scripture study. Elder Uchtdorf said,
We improve our relationship with our Heavenly Father by learning of Him, by communing with Him, by repenting of our sins, and by actively following Jesus Christ, for “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Christ].” To strengthen our relationship with God, we need some meaningful time alone with Him. Quietly focusing on daily personal prayer and scripture study, always aiming to be worthy of a current temple recommend—these will be some wise investments of our time and efforts to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. Let us heed the invitation in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
We can reflect on our lives as well as the life of the Savior during this week, as well as consider what will be our goals for next year.
Celebrating the Savior
The magic of the Christmas season is found in the Savior. Elder Clayton taught,
The transformative spirit of the Christmas season is rooted in the redeeming power of Jesus Christ to change our lives for the better.
That is the purpose of the Light the World campaign, to bring the transformative power of Christ more fully into our lives and for us to share it with the world. President Monson said,
There is yet time this year to extend the helping hand, the loving heart, and the willing spirit—in other words, to follow the example set by our Savior and to serve as He would have us serve. As we serve Him, we will not forfeit our opportunity, as did the innkeeper of old, to make time for Him in our lives and room for Him in our hearts.
We just have to do it. So the question for each of us is: How will you #Light the World this Christmas?