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Celebrate the Christmas season by bringing the light of good deeds

By Aaron Johnson
Special to the American-Statesman
Aaron Johnson is a husband and father in Cedar Park, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For followers of Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no more cherished season than Christmas. While Santa surely gets ample attention during Christmas, wonderful traditions, and events all over Austin, indeed all over the world, draw our attention to the true cause for the celebration, Jesus Christ.

This is also true for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While I didn’t grow up in Utah, I did have a few opportunities to appreciate the beautiful Christmas lights and displays on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. They are a sight to behold, and if you have the good fortune to catch them amidst a little Utah powder (snow), all the better.

In November of 2016, a new Christmas tradition began. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched a global Christmas campaign that has been repeated each year since. The campaign is called “Light the World” (#LightTheWorld) and can be viewed at lighttheworld.org. Everyone choosing to participate is encouraged to offer service to others in 25 ways over 25 days.

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The inspiration for the format came from the traditional advent calendar. Instead of a sweet treat, each day offers a suggestion to “Light the World” in some small way, with an act of Christlike service.

In the eighth chapter of John, Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world”. But in the fifth chapter of Matthew, He also said, “Ye are the light of the world”. The invitation to “Light the World” is an invitation to anyone so inclined. It is an invitation to embody this light by “loving thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 23:39)

Elder David A. Bednar was interviewed in 2016 about the purpose of the new project. He said the hope was that participants wouldn’t just think about Christ or learn more about Him, but they would come to really know Him by doing what He did. “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served” (Mosiah 5:13). Surely, we all desire to know Him, for eternal life is “to “know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Over the past six years, a number of videos have also been produced in support of the project, demonstrating the myriad ways we can serve one another and the profound joy that service can impart to both the giver and the receiver. This year’s video shows how we can all play a part in a “modern nativity.”

In this year’s “modern nativity” video, the star is a flashlight held over a raised hood to aid in an auto repair. Shepherds are children visiting the bed of a sick child. Angels are volunteers helping to paint a woman’s home. Wise men are three young boys inviting another boy who was left out to join them in their soccer game. Gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are mirrored in modern gifts that meet the needs of each individual. The stable is an apartment for a family in need. There are parts we can all play in this ongoing “modern nativity.”

I invite you to view the 2021 video yourself (lighttheworld.org), and see if you aren’t moved to do a little something more to serve this Christmas.

God loves each of us with a penetrating, pervading, ardent love we can scarcely imagine. We occasionally glimpse it when we serve each other, or when we are served. Seek opportunities to serve. Warmly receive service. Glimpse the pure love of Christ. Become more like Christ.

Aaron Johnson is a husband and father in Cedar Park, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.