As we approach the season of Christmas, many feel a joy and happiness that is more vibrant than at other times of the year. Some may feel sadness and loneliness that is more pronounced as they struggle with challenges or trials and they yearn for joy and happiness. Christmas to Christians is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. To our Jewish friends the month of December celebrates Hanukkah, in remembrance of the rededication of their temple after recapturing the temple from the Syrian Greeks. Black Americans celebrate in December reaffirming their African- American culture and heritage. Because they follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gegorian calendar, Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians will celebrate the birth of Christ about two weeks after Dec. 25. There are other religions and cultures that celebrate their prophets and leaders and events in December as well as in other months of the year. No matter the celebration it is interesting that many of these celebrations celebrate with light. Christians often call Christ “the Light of the World”. John 12:46. Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights and candles are lit on a menorah each night of Hanukkah. Winter Solstice is Dec. 21, when we begin to gain sunlight again. Christmas lights begin to appear in our community around Thanksgiving week, trees go up in homes and are decorated with lights. Children and adults have a light in their eyes as they anticipate the giving of gifts and family traditions of the season.
Christians believe Jesus Christ’s light changed the world. In each of us is a light. Our lights shine bright when we help someone, share love with someone, forgive someone, serve someone and show kindness to someone. Family, friends, strangers and neighbors need your light. The world needs your light. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14. As we go about the month of December, look for ways to shine your light, to share your light, reach out beyond your typical day and look for ways to serve others, to offer a smile, to open a door, to carry a package, to offer a hug, to help to lighten the world around you.
The world needs us to shine our lights. Whatever your religious views are you have a light and you can share your light with the world around you. You may never know what your light can do lift your fellow neighbor. Your light is valued and can make all the difference to someone else. You can lift the loneliness and sadness of yourself and those around you. The holidays can be a busy time, but I hope we will each take the time to search within ourselves and identify our light and then share that light with others.
If you would like to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Light the World initiative, please see LightTheWorld.org and https://tinyurl.com/50sharelight. You can sign up for daily text prompts to help you shine your light and there is a list of 50 simple ideas you can do to share your light with others. May this holiday season have lots of light and may your light shine in the world around you!
• Donna Leigh is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.