“Wonderful Spirit” Attends Gardens at Mesa Temple Christmas Lights Display

Contributed By Jill Adair, Church News contributor

  • 6 December 2017

Near-life-size figures portray Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem on the gardens of the Mesa Arizona Temple grounds during the Christmas lights display that lasts through December 31.  Photo by Clint Adair.

MESA, ARIZONA

Before sunset under a clear blue, warm Arizona sky, the Mesa Temple Christmas lights were turned on throughout the gardens November 24 without fanfare, although to quiet applause.

Visitors’ center director Elder Robert Lochhead said the sister missionaries who mingle nightly with visitors throughout the gardens had a special prayer meeting before the lights were turned on for the first time this season and a “wonderful spirit” permeated the grounds.

“The sisters understand and take it very seriously that they have a unique opportunity to testify to a large number of people who come here,” he said. “By the end of the evening they are exhausted and exhilarated.”

Elder Lochhead said more than 6,000 visitors came into the center on opening night, and they received a significant number of referrals from people wanting to learn more.

On the west side of the gardens, a near-life-size Italian-imported nativity is illuminated by an enormous star with tens of thousands of sparkling lights. Photo by Clint Adair.

“It’s amazing!” said Liesl Cardon of Utah, who visited the lights display for the first time. “I especially love the reflection of the temple in the pool.”

She paused with her companion, CJ Passantino of Texas, both of whom are BYU students, in front of a large white nativity that appears to float in a small reflecting pond on the north side of the temple.

A large white nativity is featured on the north side of the Mesa Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

“I was thinking of how calm the water is,” she said. “It reminds me of the gift of peace that we get from our Savior—through His Atonement and through prayer.”

A wooden nativity crafted by local artist Brad Alger is on display inside the Mesa visitors’ center. Photo by Clint Adair.

“We love the Christmas lights,” he said. “We are so grateful for the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who put it together and make it successful. It’s a real community effort.”

Elder Lochhead pointed out that inside the visitors’ center there is a display of more than 160 nativities from around the world and a special focus on the Church’s “Light the World” celebration, with videos and pass-along cards.

“Missionaries testify that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and invite visitors to participate in service throughout the season,” he said.

Outside the lights are turned on nightly from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. through December 31 in downtown Mesa. Thirty-minute Christmas concerts are presented December 1 through December 25 on the north lawn.

On the west side of the gardens a near-life-size Italian-imported nativity is illuminated by an enormous star with tens of thousands of sparkling lights. Nearby, Lacey Ames of Mesa held her sleeping 8-month-old swaddled baby girl while explaining to her 3-year-old boy about the significance of the moment portrayed.

“Instead of the hype of presents, we’re trying to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, which is Christ,” Ames said. “There is always a special spirit on the temple grounds when you’re looking at the Christmas lights that you can’t get anywhere else.”

A display highlights Isaiah’s prophecies of Jesus Christ. The QR code provides more information through a digital device. Photo by Clint Adair.

BYU students Liesl Cardon and CJ Passantino pause in front of a large white nativity that appears to float in a small reflecting pond on the north side of the temple. “I was thinking of how calm the water is,” she said. “It reminds me of the gift of peace that we get from our Savior—through His Atonement and through prayer.” Photo by Clint Adair.

Tyler Swenson, 4, looks with wonder at the Christmas lights beside his sister, Katelyn, 7. Photo by Clint Adair.

The Swenson family of Phoenix, Arizona, stroll through the Mesa Temple gardens on opening night, viewing the display of Christmas lights. From left: Katelyn, 7; Tyler, 4; and Ellie, 9. Photo by Clint Adair.

The gardens on the north side of the Mesa Temple are lit up nightly from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. through December 31 in downtown Mesa. Photo by Clint Adair.

Visitors surround an outdoor nativity on the west side of the gardens on the Mesa Arizona Temple grounds. Photo by Clint Adair.

Inside the the Mesa visitors’ center a display features more than 160 nativities from around the world. Photo by Clint Adair.

Three-year-old Kate Walker from California looks at the nativities with her mother, Maurine Walker, in the Mesa visitors’ center. Photo by Clint Adair.

Visitors stroll through the Christmas lights display on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

Detailed figures are part of a near-life-size Italian-imported nativity on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

Visitors stroll through the Christmas lights display on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

Visitors stop to look at Christmas lights covering trees and bushes on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Photo by Clint Adair.

The Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas lights display is presented nightly through December 31 in downtown Mesa. Thirty-minute Christmas concerts are presented December 1–25 on the north lawn. Photo by Clint Adair.