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Christmas' 1st Light

Christmas Light Hope

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2023-01-22

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2 ; Matthew 2:2

Author: Marcelle Smith


In 1882, in a townhouse at 136 East 36th Street in New York City, Edward Hibberd Johnson had an idea that would make him the unsung set decorator of a zillion holiday snapshots. Although Christmas trees became popular between 1840 and 1870, what really made them were the candles. While they were festive, they were also a fire hazard.

Johnson, who worked with Thomas Edison, set up a tree by the street side window of their store. Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue light bulbs, strung them together around the tree, and placed the trunk of the tree on a revolving pedestal, all powered by a generator. The lights drew a crowd as passersby stopped to gaze at the glowing marvel. Johnson turned this and the practice of doing more each year into a tradition.

At that time, a string of 16 vaguely flame-shaped bulbs sitting in brass sockets the size of shot glasses sold for $12 - about $350 in today’s money. By 1914, that same set cost just $1.75. By the 1930s, colored bulbs and cones were everywhere.

Today, an estimated 150 million light sets are sold in America each year, adding to the tangled millions stuffed into boxes each January. They light 80 million homes and consume 6 percent of the nation’s electrical load each December.  And though the contagious joy of these lights has been co-opted orange at Halloween, and red at Valentine's Day, it all started with Johnson’s miracle on 36th Street.


The first Christmas light was a star that led some people to Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. That light was prophesied over 700 years before by the prophet Isaiah.

There is always violence, injustice, abuse of power, homelessness, refugees fleeing oppression, families being ripped apart, and bottomless grief. December is the darkest time of the year.

If we look only to the earth and human resources, the darkness only gets worse. The world is a dark place, and we will not find our way or see reality unless the Source, Jesus, is our Light (v.2c; upon the world a light has dawned; not from the world).

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine" (Isaiah 9:2, NIV). 

Be The Bulb That Outshines All The Others

Light Witness Perseverance

Source: Burning Since 1901, this Bulb is the Poster Child for Planned Obsolescence, published 2/1/2018 on, retrieved 10/18/2022.

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-10-19

Scripture: Matthew 5:14 ; Philippians 2:15

Author: Illustration Exchange


How many light bulbs have you had to change in your lifetime? In today’s world, LED light bulbs will only have to be replaced, on average, every 20 years or so. Yet, until just recently, it was commonplace to have to replace the light bulbs in our lamps and fixtures every several months, depending on usage.

In sharp contrast, shining brightly beyond the expectations of any modern bulb, the Centennial Light Bulb has been faithfully casting light for the Livermore Fire Department for over 120 years without burning out.

A website dedicated to the Centennial Bulb reports,

[It was] first installed at the fire department hose cart house on L Street in 1901. Shortly after it moved to the main firehouse on Second. In 1903 it was moved to the new Station 1 on First and McLeod, and survived the renovation of the Firehouse in 1937, when it was off for about a week. During its first 75 years it was connected directly to the 110 Volt city power, (subject to the power outages), and not to the back-up generator for fear of a power surge. In 1976 it was moved with a full police and fire truck escort, under the watch of Captain Kirby Slate, to its present site at Fire Station 6, 4550 East Ave., Livermore, California. It was then hooked to a separate power source at 120V, and UPS according to Frank Maul, Retired City Electrician. There was one interruption in May, 2013, when the UPS failed and it was off for at least 9 1/2 hours.

People are drawn to the light. They come from far and wide to see it burning, and a “bulb cam” was even installed for online viewing.


It seems that light bulbs were invented, from the beginning, with he capacity for great longevity. And while Thomas Edison et al invented the rudimentary bulb, it was the work of Professor Adolphe A. Chaillet and the Shelby Electric Company who invented and developed the improved filament that allowed for seemingly perpetual illumination.

So why has this one bulb lasted decades beyond even our most efficient, modern fixtures? The answer is “Planned Obsolescence.” You see, providing a bulb with seemingly perpetual illumination is not necessarily a profitable venture.

According to various dictionaries, “Planned Obsolescence” can be defined as “a policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of nondurable materials.”

Enter the Phoebus Cartel

The Phoebus Cartel was a cartel that existed to control the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs by appropriating market territories and fixing the useful life of such bulbs. … The cartel included manufacturers Osram, General Electric, Associated Electrical Industries, and Philips, among others. … [By] 1924, the main bulb manufacturers in America and Europe secretly formed a cartel to limit the average life of lamps to 1,000 hours,” thus ensuring the re-marketability of the product (though it's no longer legal to do so, at least not here in the U.S.).

So while Edison’s original commercial lightbulb from 1881 lasted up to 1500 hours, others began marketing bulbs that lasted nearly double that. Then, by the turn of the new century, Challet’s bulb was lasting for … well … it continues to burn today. Where’s the profit in that?! You’d never need to buy another bulb in your lifetime!

But even with the introduction of LED bulbs, we’re still not seeing the mass production of bulbs with the durability and longevity of the Livermore Fire Department’s Centennial Bulb.


Light bulbs are ubiquitous.  They’re an everyday necessity of life.  So, why do people come from far and wide to see the Centennial Light Bulb? Why are people drawn to this light and not to others?  Well, it hasn't failed in 120 years!  By comparison, every other light bulb is inferior.  This difference is remarkable enough to catch the world's attention.  

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).

Christians aren't the only people who perform good works.  However, there is a different quality to the love that Christians are called to share, one that causes it to stand out.  The sacrificial nature of Jesus' love for the whole world sets the tone for the Christian calling.  And because our love is a reflection of Jesus' love, it is not in pursuit of personal gain — so there's no "planned obsolescence" here! 

Indeed, the light we bear is the light of God; it will never burn out. God intends our light to burn brightly from now into eternity. 

People are drawn to the light. Be the light! Be the bulb that outshines all the others!

“That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 13:47, ESV).

Walk In The Light

God's Judgment Light Sin

Source: “Steven Burke blew £28,000 on a new car, cocaine, booze and hotels after the costly blunder by his company,” TOM KERSHAW, July 7, 2016

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-11-18

Scripture: Ephesians 5:8

Author: Illustration Exchange


Tom Kershaw, with The Mirror, reports:

A construction worker splashed out a fortune on partying and fast living after his boss paid him £40,000 too much - because he got a decimal point in the wrong place.

Steven Burke blew £28,000 on a new car, cocaine, booze and hotels after the costly blunder by his company.

He was expecting a pay check of £446.60 - but couldn't believe his luck when a massive £44,660 dropped into his bank account instead.

A court heard the company director put his decimal point in the wrong place.

But instead of letting them know, Burke filled his boots with designers clothes and online gambling.

He told a court he thought he had been a lucky victim of 'cyber crime'.

... But when asked the obvious questions of why he could not pay back the money or make anyone aware of the overpayment - he simply could not answer.


What’s done in the dark may be rejoiced over in the moment, but not when it's brought out and exposed by the light. That's when our guilt will be revealed for what it really is, and our excuses will fail us. 

What will you say when God asks you the obvious questions about the sin and guilt in your life? The words, “It was wrong, I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway," won't do you much good on that day.  

Don't find yourself standing before God with nothing but poor excuses to offer Him. Right now, today, step out of the darkness and into the light of Christ. 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

The Light of Life

New Birth Light Salvation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-07-20

Scripture: John 1:4 ; John 8:12

Author: Illustration Exchange

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It's Always Darkest Just Before . . .

Light Salvation Hope

Contributed By: Scott Roberts | Date Posted: 2015-12-04

Scripture: John 8:12 ; Luke 2:

Author: Scott Roberts

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We Are Fireflies

Light Witness Christlikeness

Contributed By: Scott Roberts | Date Posted: 2015-09-12

Scripture: Ephesians 5:8

Author: Scott Roberts

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There Is Light Without Sight

Spiritual Blindness Light Second Coming

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-05-09

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:5

Author: Illustration Exchange

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A Scientific Analysis of Light

Trinity Light Experiencing God

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-05-09

Scripture: Matthew 28:19

Author: M.R. DeHaan

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Afraid of the Light

Light Truth Fear

Contributed By: Chris Horton | Date Posted: 2015-03-07

Scripture: John 3:20

Author: John Lennox

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Giant Christmas Tower to Shine Light on North Korea

Christmas Witness Light

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-12-20

Scripture: John 1:4

Author: Illustration Exchange

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