“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
These joyful words we sing are what we strive to make the Christmas season to be. We want to engage in meaningful service, to help our children and others feel the true spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ. But too often, good intentions get buried in the too-long list of things to do. Somewhere between the decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping, concert going and parties we often end up feeling guilty — wondering if, in all of the busyness, we have lost sight of what really matters. Did our children see modeled, and did they feel for themselves, the joy that comes giving Christlike service?
The “Light the World” Christmas initiative can help us as individual members and families to follow the example of Jesus Christ by focusing on what matters most. This month-long campaign encourages us to share the light of Christ through small but meaningful acts of service on each of the 25 days before Christmas. Whether it is sharing a thought on social media, donating food, writing an encouraging note, providing a treat to a neighbor, serving in the temple or researching family history, each act of service will help to “light the world.” Instead of just hanging lights, we can be a light to others. President Thomas S. Monson reminds us, “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” (“Be an Example and a Light,” October 2015 general conference).
The Light of Christ burned bright in the lives of many in December 2016 as they accepted the challenge to “Light the World.” Individuals and families were blessed as service was given and received. For many, being intentional about spreading light gave meaning to the good they were already doing.
Rachel, a new mother, posted a photo of her baby boy on her Instagram account with this tender insight: “For day 1 of the #lighttheworld initiative I REALLY wanted to go out and lift someone else’s burden ... but found myself within the walls of my own home all day long, serving this sweet baby! His tummy was hurting all day, and instead of getting frustrated or anxious about not being able to go out, I rocked him in my arms, sang him my favorite Christmas hymns, played patty-cake. I am so grateful to be Maxwell’s mom; to be the one who gets to lift his every burden. No one else can do it for him!!! I thank God for the opportunity I have to serve my sweet baby!”
Leslie Nelson, a mother of 6 and grandmother of 13, found that the “Light the World” campaign gave her an opportunity to bless the lives of her grandchildren — “the little lights” in her life — and their busy parents. Here are her feelings about their experience as a family: “Last year as my family participated in the Light the World campaign, we felt a spirit of togetherness. We don’t all live in close proximity to each other. I gathered some materials for a 25 day advent activity and presented them to each family. I wanted my grandbabies to share in the magic of the season and feel the sweetness that comes from sharing the light of Christ through giving. Across the miles, each member participated daily, in their own familial way, by following the prompts from #lighttheworld. We felt united in our efforts in doing what the Savior would do, and becoming like He is.
“As we shared our simple experiences, we not only were drawn together as a family, but there came a power in knowing that a worldwide church, a worldwide family, was also experiencing and offering, the same brightness of light. We felt a gift of peace and power in knowing and in sharing the warmth and light of The Son.”
It is no coincidence that the two brightest lights in our lives, lights that give warmth and life, are the “sun” and the “Son.” As we approach this Christmas season, let us join hearts and hands as individuals and families and focus on the Son of God, the Light of the World. As we learn of Him, sing of Him, and most importantly, serve like Him, it truly will be “the most wonderful time of the year.”