The 500,000 lights that adorn Washington DC’s Temple lot are “our gift to the nation’s capitol,” said Ann Santini, Director of International Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at a lighting ceremony this week where ambassadors from many nations, LDS Senators, LDS Congressman, some General Authorities and other dignitaries attended.
Sister missionaries greeted the guests with warm smiles. Last year a quarter million people came to the Washington DC Visitors’ Center to enjoy the lights, musical presentations, and spirit of Christmas.
The caroling of the Mormon Choir of Washington added to the festivities. Part of the attraction at Christmas of the Visitors’ Center is a display of international nativities. This year about 100 are on display.
The Christus statue stood behind the audience and reflected in the expansive windows before them as they gazed upon the temple.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” the choir sang as well as a special arrangement of “Silent Night”. The words are “This is a time for joy! This is a time for love! Now let us all sing together, Of peace, peace, peace on earth.”
Senator Orrin Hatch introduced the Ambassador of Viet Nam who had been asked to throw the switch and illuminate the temple grounds this year. Inviting ambassadors to visit the temple grounds each Christmas has been a source of good will between the Church and many nations.
His excellency, Le Cong Phung, Ambassador of Viet Nam said, “Our two countries have shown how problems can be overcome and solved.”
He said, “I cannot help but think that we as human being are not so different from each other. When we open our hearts, we are more able to see our similarities.”
Children in the audience came up for a rousing version of “Jingle Bells.”
Elder J.W. Marriott Jr. has been the host of this event for 33 years.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy said that to truly enjoy the season is to be engaged in selfless service. If each of us do a little more, the collective effort can be felt.
This lovely Viet Namese couple were featured when the choir sang.
These lights, which sparkle against the winter darkness, make the Washington DC temple lot a major attraction in the capitol city.
These lights remind us of the Savior who is the source of joy, love and goodness. They are a symbol of warmth and friendship, a symbol of the One who guides us.