Lights brighten holiday season

MESA, Ariz. — Visitors to the annual Christmas lights display at the Mesa Arizona Temple this year will see a life-size Nativity and a nearby shepherds' camp. Original music, written especially for the display, plays continuously in the background and tells the Christmas story from the Bible's book of Luke.

Set northeast of the temple, the scenes re-create that holy night of the Savior's birth and give a traditional portrayal of the figures associated with the sacred event.

The music, written by LDS composer Wanda West Palmer, plays at both the Nativity and shepherds scenes. However, closer to each display, visitors can hear different lyrics being sung; one telling the story from Joseph's perspective and the other from the shepherds'.

Most visitors stop at both areas. "We wanted to give people a reason to pause at these scenes," said Bruce Whiting, chairman of the display. "Now they can stop, listen and ponder, and have an opportunity to feel the Spirit."

Visitors can enjoy the Nativity and shepherds scene, 600,000 lights and seasonal music throughout the holidays. Free evening performances by local musical groups are held south of the visitors center nightly at 7 p.m. through Dec. 31.

The lights will remain on an extra five nights this year, through Jan. 5, from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. The temple grounds are located at 525 E. Main Street in Mesa.