December 24, 2000

"Cradle the Light"
Christmas Eve Meditation and Prayer
by Rev. Sherry Parker
Dundee United Methodist Church

Please note: Because I do not use notes when I preach, the text in the written sermon may vary slightly from the spoken sermon. My prayer is that in both my writing and my speaking the Holy Spirit works to make this message worthy of God's purpose.

Scripture: John 1:1-14

On this night we remember Jesus' birth, a cold and clear night, stars filling the sky. One star, dominant and brilliant. Soon we'll reenact our understanding of that scene. A grotto warmed by animals. Quite, muffled sounds of new parents with a new born child. We'll imagine the shuffle of hooves, the stirring of sheep and the rustle of cloth and straw as Mary places Jesus gently in a manger, meant for food, now a cradle for a child.

On that first Christmas night the light of the heavenly host filled the sky and shepherds moved by the light and the angels' song journeyed to Bethlehem to find the make-shift cradle that held the One True Light, the Light of the World. I've been thinking about the Light of God come to earth, the light held in a cradle/manger. I've been thinking about how each of us has the opportunity to hold that same light, to hold Jesus the Savior, the light of God's grace and salvation. And I know that we are just as much cradles for His light as a manger was long ago.

We hold the light of Jesus in the way we choose to live. When we practice generosity, patience, kindness, and compassion in this world, we cradle the light of Christ.

We cradle the light in what we say. This gift of speech, of language that God gives us, allows us to say to one another, "I care about you." To say to our spouses, "You are a part of who I am. I would not be anywhere else, but with you." To say to our children, no matter their ages, "I care for you more than all the words and all the hugs and all the presents could ever, ever measure. " To say to those whom we love, "I love you. You are God's precious gift." This gift of speech allows us to offer prayer and sing words of adoration before God.

And we cradle the light of Jesus Christ in our hopes, in the knowledge that God's ultimate, loving good will prevail. That the dark is not dark, that the night is not forever night. For no night in God's care is so long that the light of grace does not send beams over the horizon and bring a new day.

We have the hope that the light of Jesus Christ will brighten the corners, clear out the shadow and bring greater understanding and
goodwill among the people of this world. And we cradle the light of hope for each person we know who needs the gift of Jesus, who needs the gift of the One True Light. We cradle light of hope for the world.

Later as we sing "Silent Night, Holy Night" we will light candles and we will physically cradle a light. Here this Good News. This does not have to be a once-a-year thing. A manger was an unlikely cradle for the Light of God and you may consider yourself just as unlikely, but the precious Light you hold in your living, in your speaking and in your hoping is God's precious gift of love. It is God's grace given to you and through you to the world. We cradle the light, each of us, this night in a candle and all of our days in the blessed presence of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

O God of all good gifts, we give you praise this evening for the gift of your Son. We give you thanks for what Jesus has taught us about your care for us and about caring for one another. We give you all honor and glory for the miraculous gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We ask that your loving presence be with those this night who are ill, in need or alone. Comfort those who mourn or are far from home. Let the traditions of cease fires and truces, generous acts and compassionate giving extend beyond this night to become a way of life in this world.

And let the light of Christ shine in us as you will. For it is our desire that all might come to know your glory and your everlasting peace. Amen.

Benediction
Jesus, God's gift from heaven, said, "You are the light of the world." Let your light so shine that people around you will be moved by the good things you do to glorify God in heaven. Go in peace; God is with you. Amen.