Music, lights and bronze artwork highlight Christmas in Independence, Mo.

Published: Saturday, Dec. 18 2010 5:30 a.m. MST

LDS Church history sites that dot the eastern half of the United States all prepare for Christmas with lights, Nativity displays and other decorations. This week Mormon Times highlights Christmas at LDS Church historic sites from Sharon, Vt., to Nauvoo, Ill.

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A woman on her way to receive chemotherapy saw the sign advertising the exclusive exhibit of bronze artwork, "The Healing Power of Jesus Christ" by Angela Johnson, at the Independence Visitors' Center and came in wanting to feel that power.

While there, she saw 13 different scenes depicting the ministry and healing miracles of the Savior and felt the power found in the artwork as well as the Spirit of God, which always heals.

In addition to seeing the exhibit, which will remain until February, visitors can see the Christus in the center of the main floor as well as the thousands of Christmas lights that adorn the grounds.

The well-lighted statue of the Savior, which stands against the backdrop of a depiction of his Second Coming, serves as constant reminder that he is the center of all that happens during Christmas and that he rules over all.

Like Temple Square in Salt Lake City, the Independence Visitors' Center has thousands of lights illuminating all of the trees in front of the building. Each year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there is a lighting ceremony where someone, usually the mayor of Independence, throws the switch after a countdown from 10.

With applause and refreshments, the visitors' center is honored for its continual contribution to the Christmas and holiday beauty of the city.

Every ward in the surrounding seven stakes is invited to bring its musical talent for "Sounds of the Season" to provide beautiful music. Bell choirs, harpists, choirs of children and adults, string quartets and more can be heard and enjoyed by all who walk the grounds.

The performances are enhanced by the rotunda-shaped walls, which bring out the fullness of the music, somewhat like a choir in a cathedral.

In the theater room downstairs, families bring friends and instruments to make their own music.

Certainly, it proves to be a once-a-year event.

Steven Nelson is the director of the Independence Visitors' Center for the LDS Church in Missouri.

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