Our family is so excited to join the #LightTheWorld campaign again this year, a movement initiated by the LDS Church. It is a perfect way to invite true Christmas into your home and heart.
Earlier this week, while returning from my morning run, I topped the hill by our house and watched with total wonder as the morning sky literally caught on fire and clouds blazed with golden light. I thought of the phrase from the Easter hymn, “breaking o’er the purple east.”
I wasn’t fast enough to catch it with my good lens, but this is what I captured on my iPhone. No filter.
I turned around slowly, a full 360 degrees, and every angle of sky was shimmering with glorious light.
I’ve never seen a sunrise like it. I wanted to sing out loud, “Gloria! Allelujah!” It was a gift of perfection from a kind and divine Father, that reminds us all things do indeed testify of Christ.
“And behold, all things have their likeness, all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath; all things bear record of me” (Moses 6:63.)
To me, it was not coincidental that the #LightTheWorld campaign would start this week. Think for a minute how light like this makes you feel. How one small act of service or one smile from a stranger can brighten your day. How that moment, when you receive a gift you felt you didn’t deserve, humbles you to the core and you are filled with love.
If you haven’t yet, watch this short video to understand what #LightTheWorld is about.
You can download the calendar here.
We are using our advent tree to read the scripture each day and hang an ornament on our tree. In the pockets are ornaments I already had that I matched with each day of the #LightTheWorld calendar. (And of course, the kids wanted treats in the pockets, so I gave in.)
The scripture for the first day was, “freely ye have received, freely give.”
I pulled out Matthew 10 to read the verse in its entirety and considered my day. It was already feeling crazy. Errands to run before the kids got out of school, a doctor’s appointment I couldn’t miss, church work that had taken a backseat for too long, and my own desires to get a jump on Christmas shopping and pull out decorations. But the night before, I got a text from one of my dearest friends, Saydi. She and her family just moved here from Boston and she was wondering if I could help her unpack her kitchen.
I’m embarrassed to stay I stopped and wondered for a minute how much time I could give. I thought, Maybe I won’t stay the whole morning… And then I read that verse. … freely give… and my heart swung open. Of course I would go. And stay as long as I could. What was there to be stingy about? My things could wait. Hers couldn’t. I would give freely of my time.
And it was a joy. A total joy being with her, her Mom, her sister who is also my dear friend, and one of our mutual friends whom I adore and never get to see. We unpacked, put away, wiped out cupboards, laughed. Nothing fills you like service. Nothing.
So, watch this little video from Day 1. You’ll be amazed at the awesome vending machines the church has put in various locations. Instead of buying yourself a drink or candy bar, you can purchase socks for the homeless, shoes for a needy child, two chickens for a hungry family in another country. It’s pretty incredible. And if you live local, there is one at the JSM building downtown.
Day 1 scripture was, “I was thirsty and ye gave me drink.” Members of the church have done an amazing job spreading light through social media, which is how I found out about Healing Waters. Our family made a donation to this incredible group who has 260 water projects serving thousands of people in 13 different countries. The global water crisis is a huge problem. 1.8 billion people in the world do not have clean, safe water to drink. Did you know clean water is the greatest factor in fighting global poverty? We were so happy to learn about Healing Waters and their work. Link above if you’d like to donate.
All the scriptures for #LightTheWorld are the Savior’s own words to his followers. When I read them I feel the import of what He is saying and my mind is expanded. I think about things differently throughout the day. It is a wonderful thing to be part of.
Our first advent ornament that went with the “freely give” scripture was a hand with a nail mark in the palm. I talked to the kids about how Christ’s Atonement was a free gift. He gave His life for all the world, every single person, so that they might have the opportunity to live eternally with Him. That they might use His grace freely, and receive His comfort, call out for His aid and understanding. All of it costs us nothing.
He has given us so much. Surely we can give freely of what we have.
A perfect message to carry inside our minds and hearts as we move through the Christmas season.
Last night we went to see The Other Wiseman, a new musical by Daniel Carter, with words and song put to the old story by Henry Van Dyke. I adore this story and have read it for years. So I was anxious to see the musical. It was wonderful with some incredible pieces of music I think should be put out as singles.
If you haven’t read this story, give your family the gift of reading it aloud during December. It is a magical tale of a forgotten magi who learns the truth of what it really means to find the Savior. The book ends with this haunting but powerful verse from Matthew,
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Now, I know it is easy to look at campaigns like this and feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I think, I am just barely treading water; I have nothing to give. I am tapped out. I haven’t time. I can’t take on more.
I get it; I really do. And yet, I have found if I will make time to simply read the verse in the morning and hold onto His words throughout the day, the Lord always sends some small opportunity my way to accomplish His request.
I am all about imperfection. Do what you can and that is enough. Miss a day? Totally okay. No need to make anything look cute or pretty so you can post it on social media. (I know, I just posted it here on the web, but I want our friends of other faiths to know what we are up to!) You know the real reward — secret alms are one of the most powerful ways to enlarge our hearts. We serve because it not only fills the world with light, it fills our souls.
We can be the change. We can do good and lift where we are.
We can light the world!
Tell me about your service plans and ideas. I’d love to hear!