Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mesa temple Christmas lights

Hundreds of thousands of visitors view holiday display on temple grounds
Published: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013

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The sacred grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple light up each year with the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors stroll through the gardens north of the temple to view the sights: colorful lights illuminate trees and flower gardens, near-life-sized figurines represent Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem, a large Nativity scene with an adjoining shepherds’ village is displayed on the lawn and a collection of unique Nativity sets from around the world are for viewing inside the visitors’ center.

Visitors also enjoy the sounds: recorded Christmas messages from the First Presidency and beloved songs focusing on the Savior performed nightly outdoors.

“This is the best place in all of Arizona to come and actually feel the Christmas spirit,” said event spokesman Stephen Harms.

Photo by Scott P. Adair
Vocalist Sam Loose performs on a stage in front of the Visitors Center Dec. 1. Nightly concerts, 7-7:30 p.m. feature the sacred music of Christmas.

“The display represents our belief in Christ as the Redeemer and our desire to proclaim that to the world,” he said. “You could say the lights symbolize the light that Christ is in our lives as our Savior and Redeemer.”

Photo by Clint Adair
Cindy Layton, with 4-year-old son, Talmage, and baby, Tydus, look at the Christmas lights Nov. 30. Sister Layton, along with her husband, Daren, and their 2-year-old daughter, Courtney, were visiting from Tucson, Ariz.

Visitors’ Center Director Linford C. Beckstrand said opening night, Nov. 29, was the largest attendance recorded for the day after Thanksgiving. More than 6,000 people came into the visitors’ center and officials estimate that four to five times that many toured the grounds.

Beckie Jackson, director of Christmas lights at the Mesa temple, said the display is installed completely by volunteers with the hope that visitors “will feel the love of the Savior when they step onto the temple grounds.”

Photo by Jill Adair
The Ocampo family from Tempe, Ariz., enjoys the opening weekend of the Christmas lights on the grounds of the Mesa Temple.

“It helps remind us that Jesus Christ is the light of the world,” she said.

The large Nativity display was moved this year to a different location where there is more room for visitors to stop, reflect and ponder without too much congestion, she said. It is at this area where the recorded voices of President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, give brief, inspiring messages about Christ and the Christmas season.

“It is a stunning centerpiece,” said Sister Jackson. Sister missionaries are on hand to greet visitors and answer any questions they might have.

Photo by Clint Adair
A new Nativity display seems to float in the infinity edge pool just north of the Mesa Arizona Temple as a beautiful sunset colors the sky.

“I think people can feel the love of Christ on these grounds,” said Sister Jessica Ricks. “It is a spirit that is very special.”

Photo by Clint Adair
Christmas lights illuminate trees and gardens as the sun sets. The lights are on nightly 5-10 p.m. through Dec. 31.

She said that the full-time missionaries also invite guests to see the displays or films inside the visitors’ center and to attend the upcoming open house of the nearby Gilbert Arizona Temple, which is Jan. 18-Feb. 15, 2014.

Photo by Clint Adair
Christmas lights illuminate trees and gardens as the sun sets. The lights are on nightly 5-10 p.m. through Dec. 31.

The Christmas lights are on 5 p.m.-10 p.m. through Dec. 31 at 525 E. Main St.

Concerts featuring the sacred songs of Christmas are performed nightly by local musicians and groups 7-7:30 p.m. in front of the visitors’ center.

Photo by Scott P. Adair
Visitors stop to look at a large Nativity scene with an adjoining shepherds village while listening to recorded messages about Christ and the Christmas season from the First Presidency.