Reflections on the cradle
By Rev. Jeff Lackie On Dec 24 2019
The church is full of symbols. The cross; the font; the table. Each of these things means something different to a faithful person. These things stand for something - they prompt us to remember stories and to tell them. Stories of Jesus
The symbols and the stories are inseparable - The cross, the font and the table each in their own way tell the story of God’s great enterprise among us. They tell of a man who lived and loved; cheered and challenged; toiled and taught among those who were pledged to God’s promise.
These symbols remind us of how easily misunderstood and how quickly misrepresented the promises of God often are.
Tonight is a night of symbols too. Not just in the church, we are surrounded with things that stand for something bigger. In the ancient practice of the church, the word for such things was ICON. A physical representation of a divine mystery. The word rings bells (forgive me) for us because of its use in the digital world; the icon for an app or a program opens up the complexities of that system and lets us experience the program more fully. That is what these symbols do for us tonight. All of them.
The snow opens childhood memories of Caroling or sledding or fireside snacks and waiting for Santa. The tree does the same - the fresh, living smell of the needles, the bright lights and decorations, each of which contain memories of their own.
And here, in all its humble glory, the cradle stands as the most poignant symbol of all.
An ICON in the truest sense, for it is this symbol that opens the Christmas story to us. A story full of memory and meaning; shepherds and angels; weary parents and the hope of all ages.
This is the symbol of all beginnings - the icon that brings the mystery of God to us in a form that we all share and easily recognize. This cradle - rough made and surrounded by love and care is the perfect symbol of God’s urgent desire that we might have joy in life, and no fear in death.
On a night pregnant with possibilities; in a season ripe with hope; here is a symbol full of the promise that has its roots in our most ancient desires. To a world that often defies our understanding and resists our feeble attempts to define and control it - comes the child whose story tells us that God loves us more than we can ever hope to understand. To a world of unrelenting challenges, God comes as a helpless child, and invites us to love him.
There are symbols everywhere of that love. The cross; the font; the table…and in this season, we treasure those Christmas things - trees and lights and gifts - that have come to stand for something more, something mysterious, something wonderfully holy.
May you be blessed in this season by the symbols which bring to mind the holy mystery of love, mercy and grace that is found here, in this simple cradle.
Merry Christmas. Amen