Did you know that there is a light bulb at a fire station in Livermore, California that has been burning for more than 120 years? The world famous bulb has shined non-stop since June, 1901. It was first powered up three months before President William McKinley was assassinated, and has outlasted 21 presidents since. Actually there was one brief interruption in May, 2013 for 9 1/2 hours when the power failed, but it has been busy illuminating ever since.
Physicists are baffled at why the bulb continues to shine, and hasn’t burned out after more than a century of continuous use. It has been left burning in Fire Station #6 as a nightlight over the fire trucks. One explanation for the longevity of the bulb is that the filament is eight times thicker than the normal ones. Also, a bulb that is constantly turned on and off will burn out quicker than one that is left on– and this one is always on. Beyond this, it’s just a mystery.
It has been declared the oldest known working lightbulb by Guinness Book of World Records as well as Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not. Thousands of people visit the fire station each year to see the bulb, and it has been featured in several national and international TV programs, and recognized in declarations from the President and U.S. Congress. A book has been written about the bulb, and it also had its own Centennial Bulb website, including a webcam where you can see it burning all hours of the day.
There is an obvious spiritual parallel for us as Christ-followers. Jesus called us to be “the light of the world,” and said that we are to let our light shine before others in such a way that they see our good works, and thus glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16). Elsewhere, Jesus called Himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12) so in reality we are just allowing His light to shine through us, bringing His illumination to our dark world.
But what stands out most about the amazing bulb is not the brilliance of its light. It is its consistency–its “faithfulness.” It is not known for its brilliant light–it only burns at four watts–but it is sure and steady, doing what it was intended to do, all the time. That is our calling as Christians, to be faithful and steady, in our place, shining His light into the darkness.
There may not be a non-stop webcam monitoring our light, but the world is watching–and so is the Lord. My prayer for each us is that His light would shine through each of us this week, pointing people to the hope we have in Him.
I am grateful for the privilege of serving as your pastor, and I look forward to seeing you look Sunday.