This is an interesting visiting teaching topic. The message itself is typical, yet friendlier because inclusive brackets have been added to the text to make it more easily applicable to women, and the history section choices are examples of actions which reflect the “Light of Christ.”
But—in reading, I couldn’t help but wonder what is the “Light of Christ”? Is it the Holy Ghost? Is it symbolism of the Son/Sun giving light? I have heard the phrase so often, and it is defined in my mind… yet… I suddenly wondered if there were more that I did not know. So I looked it up in the most reliable resource I know. The Relief Society magazine. And this is what a 1965 lesson on the “Light of Christ” taught me:
We are informed that there is a light that proceeds “forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space” (D&C 88:12). This spirit, influence, and force is felt by all [wo]men, and it is throughout all parts of [hu]man environment. Although the scripture states that it comes from the presence of God, this Spirit is the light of Christ. Jesus, in the pre-earth life, was creator of this earth, and he is the Atoner. For these and other reasons, one may say that although this “light” emanates from God, it also comes from those who have attained all power in the exaltation. Four distinct functions performed by the light of Christ are mentioned. These are: (1) creative power; (2) life-giving force; (3) Governing or sustaining force; and (4) enlightening or inspiring power. (Relief Society Magazine, 52(1965)7: 535-540)
In summary, spiritual light comes from God—meaning both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. This is why all of us can feel it—because it comes from our Heavenly Parents, and we are connected to them as spirit children. Its is called the Light of Christ because he has experienced exaltation. Since He Atoned for our sins, He shares a part of this power with us, and we can apply in our own lives.
From the message:
As we come to understand that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, we will increase our faith in Him and become a light to others. Christ testified of His role as “the true light that lighteth every man [and woman] that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2) and asked that we “hold up [His] light that it may shine unto the world” (3 Nephi 18:24).
I like the detail included in the Relief Society Magazine in the four functions of the Light of Christ. In these, I see the Light of Christ in so many ways. In my life in particular, I feel the spirit when I go to a museum. Museums are places of reverence for me; in some exhibits in particular, I feel like I am attending the temple, walking on holy ground, and in reverence I succumb to the beauty in the work on display. I most recently felt this way as I visited a travelling exhibit of antiquities from the Afghani section of the Silk Road. The items there were breathtakingly amazing. The symbol of the tree as a life giving force, reminded me of Lehi’s tree of life (seen in this crown– mid way down the page). Tiny heart shapes fluttering in the decorative golden jewellery reminded me that ancient symbols are a part of my life today, and the myriad of treasures – from combs and perfume bowls to necklaces and crowns– reminded me that it is good to have everyday items that are beautiful, because that beauty brings light to my heart.
But mostly, it reminds me that creative power is not limited to childbirth, nor is it limited to women. It is the Light of Christ itself, creating things of beauty that bring us joy and connect us across cultures, ethnic lines, religious traditions and even centuries upon centuries.
So in this, I plan to ask the women I visit teach to share with me the ways in which they feel like they are being creative, ways they feel like they are bringing new life into their lives, ways in which their creativity sustains them and their families— and I hope to inspire them to know that these things are the Light of Christ. That they are already living with the Light of Christ, and that I admire and see this in them. Because you will see it- from stamp collections, to art prints, to hand-made quilts, to a special seashell that just looked pretty so they put it in their bathroom—these creative pieces of joy are manifestations of Christ. In these things, the women I visit teach will be holding the Light of Christ.
The examples in the text note that traditional Mormon things such as scriptures, images of Christ and temples, and church publications as examples of the Light of Christ. But I know, because of the feeling at get when I am at certain art exhibits– that the Light of Christ is not limited to these things. It is the personal item that brings individual joy that I seek to discover about my sisters, no matter its origin. Because textbook alone never brought me to a level of enlightenment.
So whilst this is not some deep earth-shatteringly doctrinal perspective, sometimes ‘sweet and simple’ is the way to go in our over-complicated lives. And I can’t wait to celebrate it with them.