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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bethlehem Christmas Tree on street lamp
Christmas tree on street lamp in Bethlehem, PA
Each street lamp is decorated with a real lighted Christmas tree!

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"Christ, the Light of the World"

"I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Last night we drove through Bethlehem, Pennsylvania which was founded on Christmas Eve in 1741 by the Moravians, who named it after THE Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born. It is a beautiful old city specially decorated for Christmas with candles in all the windows of the historic stone buildings, street lamps decorated with real lighted Christmas trees and a huge 81 foot "Star of Bethlehem" on the mountain south of the city. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be on a snowy night!

Yesterday we wrote about the subject of light and we want to continue that theme today. Today's message is actually written by Nigel Lee, a friend from Massachusetts. He shared it with me many years ago and I used it in an encouragement message at that time but, as I again ponder the theme of light, I would like to share it again. Nigel is a scientist and thus his reflection will likely stretch you a bit, but it's very interesting. The scientific perspective in the next two paragraphs is hard to grasp for non-scientists (at least for Brooksyne and I!) but hang in there because his spiritual application in the final paragraph is outstanding!

Light is an amazing component of our universe.  Nothing in the universe travels faster than the speed of light (Star Trek warp speed notwithstanding!). Special relativity tells us that the speed of light is independent of the motion of the observer (that is, to an observer traveling 1 meter per second slower than the speed of light, an object traveling the speed of light would still appear to be traveling at the speed of light!).  Light has a dual nature that has confused physicists until modern times:  it behaves as both a wave and as a particle. 

Einstein among others showed that light consists of "particles" called photons that have energy (but no mass). However, light has many wave-like properties such as refraction (seen, for example, when light bends through a prism).  Of course, light enables us to see, and the wavelength at which light radiates determines what color we see.  And light (sunlight) enables plants to undergo photosynthesis, which is essential to life (plant, animal, and human) on Earth. From a physical standpoint, then, light is absolute, mysterious, sight-enabling, life-giving, and -- without a doubt -- wondrous!

From a spiritual standpoint, the Light of the World -- Christ – is equally wondrous.  Christ is the Light who forms the absolute standard that discerns the thoughts and intentions of the hearts of men. Christ is the Light who is mysterious (1 Tim. 3:16), dual in nature, both human and divine.  Christ is the Light who illuminates the spiritual darkness of this world, forcing those who do not know Him to flee back into the shadows and yet enabling those who do know Him to see and to understand the things of God.   And Christ is the Light who gives us eternal life, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  In the world we live in today, with so many uncertainties and so much evil, Christ is the only answer to the questions of life.  Let us turn to Christ, the Light of the World, this Christmas season!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Jesus, I thank You that You lead us in the paths of righteousness through the Light of Your Word.  It is a faith undertaking that never takes us where You, the Light of the World, have not gone before us illuminating every step. Because You are the Way, we  seek no other direction.  Because You are the Truth, we won't twist the facts to serve our own base interests.  Because You are the Life we draw near to the Father through Your divine bloodline.  You are everything we need for life and godliness as You call us out of this world's darkness and into the light of Your own glory and goodness. Amen.

Nigel Lee received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Princeton University and is currently working at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory.  He grew up in Rhode Island and met his wife, Laifong, while at Princeton, where they were both involved in the campus chapter of Chi Alpha, a Christian ministry to college students.   Laifong grew up in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, but by God's grace she came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at age 15.  Laifong also has a doctorate from Princeton in molecular biology and is a researcher at Harvard Medical School. They have a 4½ year old son named Caleb. Nigel and Laifong were a wonderful blessing while in our church in New England and share the distinction of being the very first recipients of the daily encouragement message. They now attend the Boston Worship Center on the North End (a very interesting center city church we visited). They continue to receive the daily encouragement messages and we periodically share together, although now separated by distance. Nigel emailed me a family update today.

Ester with waitress at Esther's Restaurant
Yesterday we celebrated my sister-in-law's 60th birthday in Easton, PA which is near Bethlehem. (In fact my nephew Patrick and his family live in Bethlehem.)  On the way we stopped at Esther's Restaurant for pie and coffee. We've passed this restaurant many times planning to stop there for a long time since we tease Ester that it's named after her! Actually it was founded by a woman named Esther in 1954 and is now run by her grandson. Its decor was delightfully old-fashioned with a soda counter for those who prefer not to sit alone in a booth. The waitresses wore white uniforms and white work shoes which is a rarity these days.  When we told the waitress posing in the photo with Ester that we stopped because of the name of the restaurant she said, "It's surprising how many people stop here to eat just because they have a family member named Esther." A little food for thought to anyone considering a personal name for a new business!

"Here I am to worship" is a song that goes well with today's message beginning with the phrase, "Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness". (audio file)  This sounds like a locally produced rendition but I am blessed by those who place such content up on the internet to share with others.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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