‘Luz de las Naciones’ celebrates light and joy found in faith, family

The Church’s annual “Luz de las Naciones” has always been a celebration of Latin America’s rich history and culture — particularly for many Latter-day Saints with connections to the region.

This year’s version of the popular program, prerecorded and presented virtually Saturday, Nov. 20, was once again a colorful, full-bore celebration. But it was also a reminder that Latin America and its people are a contemporary, dynamic and festive force.

Saturday’s “Luz de las Naciones” — or “Light of the Nations” in English — was a reminder of the joy found in faith, family, friendship and the joy of simply having fun dancing and singing with one another. Most importantly, it was a celebration of Christ’s light — offering hope and direction.

Saturday’s program seamlessly blended the culture’s past and present. There were dance, choir music and gospel-centered messages from a variety of individuals.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered a message of hope and light near the conclusion of the program.

“Dear brothers and sisters of the Latin world, I am grateful to be part of this event and to be able to speak to you in Spanish,” he said. “Through technology, you have been able to break the barriers of distance and have managed to unite to share songs, dances and love for God in an atmosphere of genuine brotherhood.”

The scriptures, he added, say that when people are joyful they should praise the Lord with singing, dancing and prayers of praise and thanksgiving. “This is what we have done today.”

Men and women perform a traditional dance number for "Luz de las Naciones," broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021.
Men and women perform a traditional dance number for “Luz de las Naciones,” broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The program’s theme — “A Light for All” — “makes us reflect on the Giver of that light which we must share. I am referring to Jesus Christ, who is the Light of this world and who descended from heaven to give us salvation.”

Elder Christofferson taught that when Jesus Christ came to Pre-Columbian America, “He taught that He is the light we should hold high and extended an invitation. He said: ‘Hold up your light, that it may shine unto the world. Behold, I am the light which ye shall hold up — that which you have seen me do’” (3 Nephi 18:24).

The Lord teaches that there is light in His followers — and that He is the light that others will see when His disciples follow His example, said Elder Christofferson.

There will be times of difficulty and uncertainty. “In those moments, His voice enlightens us by saying, ‘Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not‘ (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36).

“The light of Christ is a light of hope, which guides us and gives us confidence that if we are faithful things will finally be fine and we will be comforted.”

“Likewise, when everything seems to collapse around us, His light surrounds us — rescuing us, leading us safely toward Him. The light of Christ is a light of hope, which guides us and gives us confidence that if we are faithful things will finally be fine and we will be comforted.”

Elder Christofferson invited viewers to become a light to the world like Christ by following His example. Following Christ’s example invites His companionship.

The musical traditions of Central and South America, along with the Caribbean, were all on display Saturday. If viewers were hoping to enjoy, say, a traditional Mexican dance with multicolored skirts and wide sombreros, they were not disappointed. Other highlights included an Andean-influenced dance filmed on Utah’s distinctive Salt Flats.

But for those drawn to the feel of Latin American “streets” in many cities, they were likely thrilled to also see singing and dancing on an urban modern-day set.

Alex Melecio, a soloist for Luz de las Naciones, performs during "Luz de las Naciones," broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021.
Alex Melecio, a soloist for Luz de las Naciones, performs during “Luz de las Naciones,” broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The program was recorded early in the year.

Aptly, the essence of “light” — the Light of Christ — was an anchoring theme that illuminated the program in music and inspired messages.

Below is a list of platforms where the event was streamed:

Young children perform in a contemporary dance number added to the "Luz de las Naciones" program, broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021.
Young children perform in a contemporary dance number added to the “Luz de las Naciones” program, broadcast on Nov. 20, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints