When Your Bubble Lights Won’t Bubble



Bubble trouble continues.

I’d planned to begin: “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble / What’s to do when bubble lights won’t bubble?”

But then I checked the quotation. My Shakespeare professor, Dr. Dudt, would be disappointed that I had to check. The words come from Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 1), as three witches, the “weird sisters,” chant, “Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

I knew the bubbles were in there somewhere.

With apologies to Shakespeare, here’s my revised question: Double, double toil and trouble / What to do when bubble lights won’t bubble?

Do “bubble lights” bubble up any memories for you?

As a kid, my favorite lights on our Christmas tree were the bubble lights fashioned to be reminiscent of candles. The bulb in the cup-shaped base heated the liquid in a narrow glass cylinder (about three inches long) so that it boiled and bubbled nicely.

The liquid, once oil but now usually methylene chloride, boils at a low 100 degrees. The first bubble lights were made as early as the late 1920s by the Telsen Electric Company in Manchester, England (Wikipedia).

A few years ago, I told an interested granddaughter or two about bubble lights. To the delight of “grands” and grandpa, I searched some out, and we lit ’em up.

This year on the first Sunday of Advent (Google it if that rings no bells), I needed a children’s sermon. Advent is about preparing for Christ’s coming—and waiting.

I’d spied at home a set of bubble lights (for replacement bulbs). I took them to church that morning, unscrewed all the bulbs but one, and practiced. I’d ask the kids, “Do you like to wait?” “No!” they’d answer. Then I’d plug in the light, hold it, and say, “Some things you just have to wait for.” And I’d talk about how the world waited for Christ’s coming.

In my early practice, the light was slow to bubble. I figured once it had been fired up, it would double bubble more quickly. Tried it again. Yep.

Then in the service came the real deal. I asked the question. Plugged in the light. I was afraid it’d bubble too quickly. Nope. I talked. No bubbles. I mentioned the prophets. No bubbles. I mentioned some of the prophets by name. Quoted them. No bubbles. Sang a song. No bubbles. Prayed a prayer. Yea, verily, the bubble light bubbleth not.

“Well, this is about waiting, ya know.” Sent the kids back to their folks. Taped the light to a top corner of the pulpit for all to watch. And we worshiped on. And viewed only a very pathetic bubble or two.

Just before the real sermon, I cast the old bulb into outer darkness. Changed it. I began to preach. We waited. And, in mid-sermon, abundant bubbles! And congregational cheers!

How long the world waited for Christ’s coming the first time! And the wait for his second coming seems endless. I don’t know when Christ will come back, but he will. And we’re closer now than when you started reading this.

In the meantime, we’re thankful for all glimmers of his joy even as a tired world deals with more than a little “toil and trouble.” In hope, we wait.


      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! You’ll find some Christmas music there, some other music great for the season, and more!



Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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