BETA

Christmas lights in Mesa, New Zealand symbolize the 'light of the world'

Some 5,000 people attending the lighting ceremony on the grounds of the Arizona Temple were counseled by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Seventy to "enjoy the festive feeling" that Christmas lights bring.

"But above all," he admonished, "let the lights cause us to recognize and remember Him who is the Light of Life. May we each walk in the Light is my Christmas prayer."Elder Christofferson, second counselor in the North America Southwest Area presidency, was the keynote speaker during the Dec. 4 lighting ceremony. After Elder Christofferson's address, Mesa City Councilman Farrell Jensen signaled for Murry Coates, chairman of the lighting committee, to flip the switch for more than 350,000 lights strung in palm trees and other trees and in shrubbery, and spread in patterns in plant beds.

In his remarks, Elder Christofferson, related: "In our home on the kitchen table is a tall red candle that my wife has marked along its length to indicate 25 segments. Each evening at supper, beginning Dec. 1, the candle is lighted and burns through one segment as we eat.

"The final lighting, of course, will be on Christmas Day. The candle's small flame is symbolic to us of what Christmas is all about. The Savior has been identified as the Bread of Life,' born in Bethlehem - which means in HebrewHouse of Bread' - and to the woman at the well as the Living Water,' and by other such titles. Most significant to my mind, however, is the appellationLight of the World.'

"As we review the scriptural references to light, we find that, one, Jesus Christ is repeatedly described as He who provides light and example to us; two, we are invited to walk in that light; and, three, as we partake of the divine light of Christ, we are commanded to show forth the same light to bless others."


TEMPLE VIEW, NEW ZEALAND

Heavy rains, alternating with light showers, created a mirrored panorama of wonder at the official "switching on" of the lights at the New Zealand Temple Dec. 6.

Nearly 3,300 people watched from beneath a canopy of umbrellas as 38,000 lights reflecting on wet surfaces winked on at the touch of a switch. More than 50,000 visitors were expected to have visited the temple grounds by Christmas.

Despite the rains, the number of people attending the lighting ceremony increased from the previous year when the ceremony was held on a clear night. "The rain didn't stop those who wanted to be there," said Bardia Taiapa, Hamilton Region public affairs director.

"People came from as far away as Auckland and the greater Waikato region for the first night ceremony."

Following the ceremony, the lights were controlled by computer and were turned on at 9:15 p.m. each night. (In the southern hemisphere, December comes during the longer days of summer.)

A seven-minute re-enactment of the Nativity, with a cast of more than 40 people, was presented three times nightly amid the colorful glow of thousands of Christmas lights.