Observations of a bell ringer

By: Pastor Mark Stehlin of Bethesda Evangelical Church in South County

Many “Merry Christmas” wishes… a couple of “Happy Holidays”… smiles… kids… and a few looks that screamed, “Bah, Humbug!”

Last week a group of teens and adults from my church spent a couple of hours as bell-ringers for the Salvation Army.  It was a little chilly, but not too cold.  It felt good to be helping others.  There is also a sense of joy which comes in wishing someone a “Merry Christmas.”

Most people smiled and returned the “Merry Christmas.”  A few others returned a “Happy Holidays.”  I was a little surprised at the number of people who didn’t look happy or merry at all.  I’m not sure if they were on a mission to get their shopping done or if the whole season brought them down.

One little girl caught my attention.  She walked out of the store bouncing happily along with her mom.  We wished them a Merry Christmas.  The mom replied the same, but the little girl shot back the generic “Happy Holidays.”  The two walked a few steps further and then stopped to talk.  A moment later the little girl raced back to us, dropped a dollar or two in the bucket, and chirped, “Merry Christmas!” with the biggest smile I have ever seen.

Christmas brings out a variety of responses in people.  For some, it is a reason to party or spend lots of money on gifts.  Others take part in the celebration, but do so in open protest.  And then, there are those who embrace the season for all the right reasons.

I love Christmas!  I cherish the time with friends and family.  I get jazzed by the decorations.  I have even been known to sit under the Christmas tree with all the room lights out just staring in wonder.  I also enjoy standing in the front yard with our dogs looking at the lights on other people’s houses.  It is such a beautiful time of the year.  I still enjoy, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and “The Santa Clause.”  The thing is though, without Jesus it’s all meaningless.

Not only is Jesus’ birth the reason for the season,  His birth gives light to life.  He is the creator with the Father.  He is the author of salvation.  He is the King, the Redeemer, our sacrifice, Emmanuel, the Lamb who was slain, the Lion of Judah, the Covenant Mediator, the Prophet, the babe in the manger… and most importantly God who came in the flesh.    Jesus came because God loves us.  Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.  To think that the Creator of the universe is interested in a relationship with us is mind-boggling.  But, that is the message of Christmas – God come to earth to save us from our sins!  I never tire of hearing it!

My prayer is this Christmas finds you with family and friends celebrating the birth of our Savior!


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  • ScottShirley  On December 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for sharing these insights and being an evangelist of the reason for the season!

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