I Heard the Bells

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep/ God is not dead, nor does he sleep.”
  (I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.)

Christmas has become quite a commodity over the years. I remember being younger when the highlight of the holidays was eating my grandmother’s snicker doodles. Anymore the only joy is getting out of Park Meadows without any serious bodily harm.

But every now and then, miracles can show up even at the mall.

I was at the mall a few weeks ago with two of my friends. We were ringing bells for The Salvation Army and had gone over to Red Robin for lunch. We sat around laughing and joking. We complained about the tests we had coming up in school and exchanged plans for winter break, all the while enjoying our meal and each other’s company.

After we had pretty much finished, our waiter came over and asked if we needed anything else. I said no and asked for the bill. At that point our waiter said, “Actually, someone here heard about what you guys are doing for the Salvation Army today and they would like to buy your lunch.”

The three of us were speechless. Here in the midst of the chaos of Christmas, we were handed a miracle at the mall. I was grateful, but dumbfounded at the same time. I went into the restaurant expecting nothing more than a half an hour off my feet and instead I was shown incredible love by a complete stranger. It’s been two weeks since this event and I still don’t quite know what to say.

My friends were both so humbled by the gift that they decided to take it one step further. When we returned to Park Meadows, they went to buy cookies from Mrs. Fields. They then took the cookies and distributed them to the other volunteers ringing bells around the mall. The little act of love in Red Robin was amplified across Park Meadows.

I heard a similar story about a drive-thru Starbucks where a man not only bought his own coffee, but also paid for the car behind him. When the driver of the next car discovered what had been done for him, he decided to pay for the car behind him. The trend continued for over 8 hours as each vehicle bought coffee for the car behind them.

Isn’t it funny, how one little act of kindness can become so magnified? How when we feel love or witness love, we want to share it with the world? Now maybe I’m naïve, or perhaps I’m just 10-15 years behind the eight ball, but to me this seems to be a big part of the Christmas story.

In John 3:16 it says that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.” God loved the world! On Christmas, He gave us a little act of kindness. On Christmas, He showed us just a little bit of love. Now on Christmas, we can give it away. We can “pay it forward” and magnify that eternal, heavenly love.

To me one of the best symbols of this “Christmas love” is a bell. If you’ve ever heard the bells of the Salvation Army outside the mall or the grocery store, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The bell is a little sound; a small, yet persistent echo. You may find it merry and bright, or you may find it irritating and obnoxious. Either way, it is impossible to walk by a bell without feeling something.

God’s love is the same way. It is quiet yet persistently echoing in your soul. You can’t experience it without being moved in some way to do something. When you feel the love, you can’t help but put it into action. Just as bells stir up emotion, God’s love drives us into relationships.

So this Christmas I invite you to hear the bells and remember that there is love in the world. May you remember that this love “became flesh and made its dwelling among us”; and that no matter how torn or chaotic our lives may become, God’s gift of love on that first Christmas will echo persistently for many, many years to come.

“…how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”

Dear God; We thank you for Christmas. We give thanks for the gift of your son and his sacrifice for us. We ask that you will help us to remember that your love is always present and that we have the power to share and show you love to the world. Be with the lonely, the sick, the poor, and the hurting this Christmas (if anyone is left out of that list, be with them too.) We need you God and we love you. In your name we pray. Amen.

Zach Herzog

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