The facts about light are really quite amazing, and if maybe it is a while since you were in a science lesson, here are a few things to ponder to lighten up your December and Christmas:
Light travels at approximately 300,000 km per second, faster than anything else in the universe
Light travels so fast that we see it before anything we might hear e.g., the lightning before the thunder!
Light from our sun can travel the 93 million miles to us in just 8 minutes
Light (and all our energy) comes from just one source in the solar system, our sun
Light is not just white, but made up of a spectrum of 7 colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
Light in its different colours has different wavelengths with red the longest and violet the shortest
Light is what makes different objects coloured…some objects appear coloured because they reflect certain colours of white light and absorb the other colours…the light reflected to the eye is the colour that you see!
Light when it passes from one substance to another can change its direction, called ‘refraction’
Light can be bent into a different direction because of gravity
Light is not all visible, for example ultraviolet light and infrared light
Light can’t light up the black void and vacuum of space, but only when it has an object to reflect off
Light that we see is just part of an electromagnetic spectrum, less than a millionth of one percent
Light is absolutely central to life used by plants and other organisms in the process of photosynthesis converting light energy into chemical energy that can then be later released to fuel an organisms’ activities
Light is amazing isn’t, and one could say literally quite ‘out of this world’, but because of that, something that brings life in what would otherwise be the dark void and vacuum of space. Without light we would have no energy. Without light we would not have life. Without light we would not see. Without light we could not enjoy the colour of our beautiful world with its scenery, its plants, its animals and other human beings. Light is what brings us life.
The idea and reality of light is something integral to the message of Christianity and of Christmas. In the very first book of the bible Genesis we read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. So God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1v1-3
In the Gospel of John, read at every Carol service, we hear: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1v1-5
In our world and country, we all feel don’t we that we are increasingly walking in darkness without the light we need to shine in our darkness to give us hope and to show us the way. But of course, the wonderful news of Christmas is that we find in the birth of Jesus the being who invented not just physical light to give us bodily life, but human life with each other and with God……life of friendship with God through the human person of Jesus. The wonderful message of Christmas is that Jesus is the one who gives the fullest spectrum of light that we need for a complete life in body, mind and soul. As Jesus said of himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8v12
What do we need to do to receive this kind of light and life? We just need to come in simple trust and then to ask and receive as John’s Gospel goes onto to say: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1v12-14
With my prayers for Advent and Christmas that we might look to the child of Jesus for the light we need to find and have life
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary Upham
6th November 2019