Lights at temple in Arizona: 'more than decorations'

MESA, Ariz. — This year as visitors stroll through the spectacular light display on the grounds of the Arizona Temple, they will be reminded that the more than 600,000 lights, which were turned on Nov. 27, are meant to portray the Savior — the "light of the world."

"I felt like we needed to distinguish ourselves from other light displays [in the city]," said Elder Dale R. Shumway, director of the Arizona Temple Visitors Center. "The message that we are portraying here is the 'light of Christ,' so why not make it evident in scriptural citations referring to Christ as the light."

Elder Shumway's idea for the lighting display led to the addition of three lighted signs. The signs, which measure 4 feet by 2 feet, highlight three passages of scripture — John 8:12, 1 Peter 2:9 and D&C 84:45-46, all which refer to the "light" of the Savior.

"Our theme has always been that these lights are more than just decorations or Christmas lights," said Peter Reis, general chairman of the lighting event. "So we hope that when people read these signs they will understand that the meaning of these lights is to remind them of the light of Christ."

The lighting event, now in its 19th year, is made possible by thousands of volunteers from 25 local stakes. Brother Reis said the work begins in October when the lights are brought out of storage and countless hours are spent checking and replacing the bulbs.

"Many of the people who put up the lights do it as a family tradition," said Brother Reis. "Each year they look for ways to improve their area and make it look even better.

"We do this because we want to share the Christmas spirit," said Brother Reis. "We do it in a way that we feel is spiritual through the gift of music and lights."

There are also special Christmas concerts held nightly at 7 p.m. in the temple gardens.

The lights will remain on every evening through Dec. 31. The month-long event is expected to attract nearly one million visitors.

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