For followers of Jesus Christ, perhaps there is no season more dear than Christmas. While Santa Claus surely receives a lot of attention this Christmas, wonderful traditions and events all over Austin and even around the world are calling our attention to the true cause of the celebration, Jesus Christ.
This is also true for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I didn’t grow up in Utah, I have had a few opportunities to appreciate the beautiful Christmas lights and displays on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. They are a sight to see, and if you’re lucky enough to catch them in the middle of a bit of Utah powder (snow), great.
In November 2016, a new Christmas tradition began. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched a worldwide Christmas campaign that has been repeated every year since. The campaign is called “Light the World” (#LightTheWorld) and can be viewed at lighttheworld.org. Anyone who chooses to participate is encouraged to serve others in 25 ways over 25 days.
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The inspiration for the format came from the traditional advent calendar. Instead of a sugary treat, each day offers a suggestion to “light up the world” in some way, with an act of Christian service.
In the eighth chapter of John, Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world.” But in the fifth chapter of Matthew, He also said, “You are the light of the world.” The invitation to “Light the World” is an invitation to all those who wish it. It is an invitation to embody this light by “loving your neighbor as yourself”. (Matthew 23:39)
Elder David A. Bednar was interviewed in 2016 about the purpose of the new project. He said the hope was that the participants would not only think of Christ or learn more about him, but that they would truly know him by doing what he did. “For how does a man know a master whom he did not serve” (Mosiah 5:13). Sure, we all want to know him, for eternal life is to “know you the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent” (John 17: 3).
Over the past six years, a number of videos have also been produced in support of the project, demonstrating the myriad of ways we can serve each other and the deep joy that service can convey to both the one who gives and the one who receives. This year’s video shows how we can all play a part in a “modern nativity”.
In this year’s “Modern Nativity” video, the star is a flashlight held over a raised hood to assist with an auto repair. Shepherds are children visiting the bed of a sick child. Angels are volunteers who help paint a woman’s house. The Wise Men are three young boys who invite another boy who has been left behind to join them for their football game. The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are reflected in modern gifts that meet the needs of each individual. The stable is an apartment for a family in need. There are roles we can all play in this ongoing “modern nativity”.
I invite you to check out the 2021 video (lighttheworld.org) for yourself, and see if you’re not moved by doing a little extra to serve this Christmas.
God loves each of us with a penetrating, penetrating, fiery love that we can hardly imagine. We sometimes catch a glimpse of it when we serve each other, or when we are served. Look for opportunities to serve. Warmly receive the service. See the pure love of Christ. Become more like Christ.
Aaron Johnson is a husband and father in Cedar Park and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.