Silver bells has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Its rhythm, its imagery, its ease of hum-ability; all making it a favorite. Just its quiet joy, its quiet contentment.
I don’t know precisely what silver bells Bing Crosby was referring to. But I have my own image in mind.
You’ve heard it. Down-town Christmas shopping, the stores all shining with their finery. There’s plenty of noises about: cars honking, the murmur and foot-steps of hundreds, the woosh of a delightfully chilly breeze; but it’s still there. Above all the bustle, above all the noise, above all the laughter and clamor for toys, it’s there.
Just a little red bucket. Just a little silver bell. But behind each there are stories to tell. Of days spent shivering in the cold, of hours spent standing alone; yet still their faithful vigil they hold. But, every day they are there. Throughout the season where others run hastily about, they stand still; a reminder of those less fortunate.
To some the bells are a call to heed. These people look at the world around them, so full of hurt and anguish and need, and they give what they can to help. To them the bells sing a cheerful melody of generosity and good-will. But to others the bells are a annoyance of foolishness. Their world is too busy to worry about others, full of wants and needs and lists and presents and parties and invitations and ribbons and trees and drinks and — and it all orbits about them. To them the bells drone a mindless clamor of requirements and wastefulness.
Now, you can stand where you will on the Salvation Army buckets. But I think those silver bell ringers can be apt examples of who we are called to be in this world.
For though we are not called bells in the Bible, we are called a sweet savour of Christ. (2 Cor 2:15) Just as the ringing of bells rises above all the noise in a busy sidewalk, so a sweet smell can wind its way through, permeating every city sidewalk, announcing to everyone passing its presence.
But although many perceive it, not all have the same response. The enemies of the Gospel and the children of God each hear different things when we ring our bells. To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. (2 Cor 2:16) To those open to hear, our words, actions, lives should be a call to heed. We should be sign-posts. These people look around at the world about them — at their very lives — so full of hurt and anguish and need, and turn to the only One Who can help. To them the Gospel is a joyful melody of underserved grace and redeeming power.
But to others our savour is an annoyance. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. (1 Cor 1:18) They have no time for this religion business. A long-dead God, preaching humility and loving your enemies and dying to self? They have no use for that. They have careers to build and families to support and love to chase and places to go and buildings to construct and retirements to prepare and school to finish and mountains to climb and doctorates to complete and — and it all orbits about them. To them the Gospel is a mindless droning of rules and condemnation and wastefulness.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness (1 Cor 1:22,23)
But — Don’t you just love the but’s in the Bible? So many amazing promises and truths of God often come after them. And this is no exception.
But unto them which are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor 1:24,25)
Those little bells don’t seem like much. They’re small, insignificant little things. But ringing together, with a cause and force behind them beyond any they themselves could have had, they proclaim hope and love. This Christmas, let us do much the same.
Let the smell of Jesus so flow out of us, that on every street corner people can perceive it. Let the Gospel ring loud above all this bustle. Soon it will be Christmas day. And soon — so very soon — it will be the day of Christ’s return.
On every street corner, let them hear the ting-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling of the Good News.