On the forth day of Christmas, Christ revealed to me: a ringing bell – the sound of a decree.
As much as you can count on the scores of black Friday sales on Thanksgiving weekend, another thing you are guaranteed to see, and hear, are the bell ringers for the Salvation Army.
Ring, ring, ringing all the way as you walk up to the grocery store. Chiming all around the block as you make your way through the crowded city blocks. The silver bells shining when you circle the parking lot a dozen times to find the perfect spot.
If you’re like me, after about a week or so, I become deaf to the sounds of the Salvation Army bells. I can see the bell ringers, wearing their festive red aprons, maybe even a crimson Santa hat, but the sound of the bells becomes so expected, that I forget they make any noise.
And no matter how many people walk by and don’t even acknowledge the bell-ringers existence, these people keep on ringing, keep on smiling and singing, “Happy Holidays,” even if you don’t return the friendly saying.
So this year, I’ve tried to really pay attention of the sound of these bells, because they stand for something more than the noisy little instruments they are. These bells are a call to give, a call to remember those in our community who are struggling with finances this year, a call to give in a small way, or a big way, if you’re feeling generous.
What if these bell ringers kept ringing throughout the whole year? For surely there are people the Salvation Army helps all 365 days of the calendar year.
But because they only sound their chimes one month out of 12, we have to imagine them ringing throughout the other 11. Kindness is not limited to the month of December. While the bell ringers volunteer their time every Christmas to remind us of the Joy of giving, we must also do our best to keep hearing the call to support our neighbors, even when we don’t see that candy apple red bucket and the excited ringers with their bells.
Like the words in the song “Silver Bells,” which state, “in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas,” I challenge you to hear the sounds of the bells this year, to think about what they mean and if you, too, feel called to support the cause of their joyful ringing.
Listen to the song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” by Casting Crowns, a blessed reminder of what the songs of these bells sing – peace on earth, good will to men.