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THE BELL RINGER
"Ring-a-ding-ding. Ringity-dingity-ding." The sound floated towards me as I walked across a parking lot the other day. I had enjoyed a rare lunch out with my daughter and decided to do a little Christmas shopping before heading home. The department store looked warm on that chilly, wintry day and the ringing bell beckoned me with its sweet music.
As I got to the store entrance I saw the music maker. He was an old bell ringer working tirelessly beside the Salvation Army bucket at the front of the store. His lean frame and scruffy white beard made him look like an underfed Santa Claus in blue jeans. His eyes sparkled and his face shined with a youthful energy as he rang out a joyful rhythm with his little bell. I fished a bill out of my wallet and dropped it in the bucket. The bell ringer smiled and said, "God bless you. Have a Merry Christmas!" with a warm, raspy voice.
I went into the store and tried to look around at all the items for sale but my eyes kept drifting back to that wonderful music maker out front. His aged arm never stopped ringing. His merry bell never stopped singing. His body may have been old but his spirit was younger than mine. His warm soul seemed immune to the cold, blustery winds. His vitality seemed to come from Heaven itself. His efforts may not have helped to feed every hungry child or help every homeless family. Yet, he was working with all of his heart to help those he could. With a loving spirit and swinging arm he was making this world a better place. I stood there wondering what this planet of ours would be like if only all of us did the same.
May we all follow the shining example of this skinny Santa in blue jeans. May our hearts ring out with God’s love. May our strong arms never tire of helping others in need. And may we all do everything we can to make this world a more Heavenly place at Christmastime and always.
….. Joseph J. Mazzella (email@example.com) by way of “Christian Voices” (ChristianVoices@att.net)
A GIFT OF GIVING
Looking forward to Christmas 1995, to me, described a paradox. How can one enjoy Christmas when their loving spouse recently passed away from cancer, and yet Christmas is a time for celebration...
I had a friend, recently divorced, who was going through his first Christmas without his children that he loved so dearly. I called my friend and invited him over to my house for Christmas. He didn't seem overly thrilled, but had nothing else to do. I did the same for another divorced person who had a day without family or friends. I told them to dress nice but withheld my plans from them.
The three of us, at my house, made Christmas canes from pipe cleaners, and after an hour I told my friends to get in my van, as I had a surprise for them.
So off we went.
First stop, a nursing home, left few dry eyes. We visited the ones who had no company, prayed with them and left them little Christmas canes and some candy. One lady, feeling really bad, asked us to pray for her. So we prayed with our hands on her body, and we felt a Power hard to describe.
Second stop, Presbyterian hospital...cancer wing. First you need to understand how hospitals work with the sick. If possible, patients are sent home for the holidays. The ones remaining in the hospital live too far, are too ill, or have no support from family or friends. About 1/2 of the cancer wing was deserted.
We visited the staff and gave them candy and our little Christmas canes, then we visited the dying and ill. How can one describe being humbled? The patients asked for our prayers. We visited with every patient in the wing. We left the patients with a smile. When we left the hospital, we had nothing else left to give, but we received much. Our emotions were drained, we were exhausted, in tears but felt elevated to a 'high' impossible to describe. We all thought "But for the grace of God'...
Last stop. We visited my wife's grave, decorated it, placed candles and sang Silent Night. Our voices were quivering because we found Christmas that day. We gave all we had to give, and it cost us about five hours of our time and about two dollars in pipe cleaners and candy. I said a silent prayer of thanks to my wife for teaching me to give.
May we, in this crazy but special time of year learn from the Teacher of teachers, Giving IS better than receiving. Merry Christmas to all, and a happy new year.
…..Copyright 2011 B.J. Cassady by way of “Christian Voices” (ChristianVoices@att.net) Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.
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