'May your light so shine this Christmas season'

Before turning on more than 750,000 Christmas lights on Temple Square and the Church plaza Nov. 26, Elder L. Tom Perry told Church members to let the lights of Christmas illuminate their minds — reminding them of what they are really celebrating this season.

"The Savior taught us not only to follow the light but also to bring mankind out of the darkness of the day in which we live into the light of His everlasting gospel," said Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve during the Church's 34th annual Christmas lighting ceremony.

A capacity crowd filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square for the program, which traditionally signals the beginning of the Christmas season in Salt Lake City. Elder Perry was accompanied by his wife, Barbara.

A combined choir made up of members of the institutes of religion at the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College presented a brief musical program, singing holiday favorites including "Joy to the World," "We need a Little Christmas," and "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful."

Sister Irina Kurinskaja, a Temple Square missionary from Lithuania, gave the opening prayer.

The program was broadcast outside the Tabernacle onto the grounds, where wall-to-wall people, numbering in the thousands, enjoyed the warm November evening.

During his remarks, Elder Perry said it was the light of a "special star that guided the wise men to the child who would be the Savior of the World." From this historical event, he explained, lights have become a very important part of the celebration of His birth.

"Each year as we have the opportunity to travel about our communities, we view the beauty of the Christmas lights that the technology and the inventive minds of men have created and found new power to illuminate this glorious season of the year," he said.

Elder Perry noted that Christmas has always been a special time of year in his home. "My parents would relive experiences and describe what their lives were like before electricity was brought into their homes. Candles were used to provide the light on the tree. They were used on Christmas Eve and were lighted for only a short period for fear of the tree catching fire."

He continued, saying that his early remembrances of Christmas included placing a single strand of lights on a Christmas tree. "Having the lights in series meant that when one burned out, the whole light strand would go dark. Then there was the fun of trying to find out which bulb had burned out."

Today, added Elder Perry, with double strands it is easy to replace burned out bulbs because only the bad one goes dark. Sizes and shapes of lights — even those that blink on and off — also add beauty to the Christmas season, he said.

"Sometimes, I wonder — with all the beauty of our new Christmas lighting — if we are dazzled by their affects."

Elder Perry asked Church members if their time is being crowded out by the complexity of this age or if they stop to remember what the real value of the season means to them individually.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," he said, quoting Matt. 5:14-16.

Elder Perry asked Church members that as they gather again to usher in a new Christmas season, to consider their more important responsibility to illuminate human lives with their acceptance of the Savior.

"The light which emanates from our very countenance, and demonstrates our actions, can be a guide and a light to others. We can reach out and bring to them the joy of this season, an understanding of the mission of our Lord and Savior and what it means to all mankind. . . .

"May your light so shine this Christmas season that all will see your radiance and works and remember His great works and remember His gift to mankind."

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