Mesa Temple Christmas Lights a 35-Year Tradition

Contributed By By Jill Adair, Church News contributor

  • 11 December 2014

“It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas," said Elder Scott Cameron, Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center director.  Photo by Scott Adair.

Article Highlights

  • The Mesa Temple Christmas lights are on from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. each evening through Wednesday, December 31.

“Coming to the lights at the temple has become a tradition for so many because the lights and the displays focus on the birth of the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas.” —Stephen Harms, event spokesman

MESA, ARIZONA

Visiting the Mesa Arizona Temple during the Christmas season is a feast of both sight and sound.

Hundreds of thousands of decorative lights covering ground-level flower beds to towering-tall palm trees illuminate the north lawn that surrounds the temple’s visitors’ center.

In addition to the colorful lights, sacred music fills the air and in certain areas messages from members of the First Presidency are heard, focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.

In its 35th year, this celebration of sights and sounds is a Christmas tradition for many.

“Coming to the lights at the temple has become a tradition for so many because the lights and the displays focus on the birth of the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas,” said event spokesman Stephen Harms.

Elder Scott Cameron, who is in his first year as director of the visitors’ center, said, “I think it’s such a wonderful gift to the community. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas.”

Tens of thousands of visitors strolled the temple grounds during the opening weekend following Thanksgiving November 27. Elder Cameron said more than 14,000 people toured inside the visitors’ center Friday through Sunday, and he anticipates crowds to grow as Christmas approaches.

Inside, visitors can watch a new three-minute video, “He Is the Gift,” which reminds viewers what Christmas is truly about. This video is part of the Church’s initiative and social media campaign #ShareTheGift and the website Christmas.mormon.org.

The Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center is one of 15 throughout the Church with the new display.

The Huebsch family of Phoenix brought Gracie, 3, and Adam, 18 months, to see the outdoor nativity display and Christmas lights at the Mesa Temple. Jill Adair

Inside the visitors' center a new display features “He Is the Gift,” a three-minute video that reminds viewers what Christmas is truly about. This video is part of the Church’s initiative and social media campaign #ShareTheGift and the website Christmas.mormon.org. Photo by Jill Adair.

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights cover flower beds, shrubs, fences, walls, and trees, illuminating the grounds on the north side of the Mesa Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

Also inside the visitors’ center is the annual nativity display. Elder Cameron said there is a collection of nearly 100 crèches from around the world, including countries representing the full-time sister missionaries serving in the center during the Christmas season.

There are also brief tours that include a permanent 13-foot marble replica of the original Christus sculpture and an eight-minute film that depicts the birth of Christ.

Outside, visitors will see a life-sized white sculptured nativity that appears to float on a negative reflection pool in front of the temple, and a blazing star lights up a large, traditional nativity imported from Italy with a neighboring shepherds’ field.

Contributing to the experience of viewing the spectacular lighting display on sacred temple grounds are the concerts presented by local musical groups, beginning at 7:00 p.m. nightly through December 25.

Michele Baer, director of the Christmas concerts, said she and her committee start planning in April for performances during the Christmas season and look specifically for groups who will perform songs focusing on the Savior in choral, traditional, or sacred style.

“We review every single lyric of every single song,” she said. “We want to keep that spirit of our Savior on the temple grounds.”

“When you’re focusing on the Savior, then the Spirit has an opportunity to testify,” she said.

For more information or to view the concert schedule, visit www.mesachristmaslights.com.