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Monday, December 22, 2014

Bell Ringers, Salvation Army Kettles, and Reminders of Christmas

I went to Walmart tonight to pick up some trivial trinket or other. On the way in, there were three people braving the cold drizzle to ring the bell at a Salvation Army Kettle. I instantly recalled the line in Rich Mullin's "Hold Me Jesus" "...and the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn. And your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin..."
That first Ragamuffins Album is smattered with snippets of Americana. I know the Salvation Army is an international ministry organization, but something about a bell ringer and a kettle feels purely American.
I got teary I often do when I recall Rich and especially that record, and especially that song. I've been locked in a real wrestling match for months now and the line "Your Grace rings out so makes my resistance seem so thin" grabbed hold of me. I've been at this crossroads for a while, and no clarity seems to be in sight. But I know I can count on His Grace...even though my humanity resists it, for lack of grasping it. There was comfort in the bell ringer at the kettle. Comfort in knowing that 2014 years have come and gone since that scandalous, wild, illogical, mystical night in Bethlehem and -try as it might- this world simply cannot remove the impact of that night on humanity. It can try to remove it from the vernacular, but it can never remove it from our hearts. As Brennan Manning said "Behind every Christmas ornament and every sprig of mistletoe. Behind every twinkling light and every antiseptic "Happy Holidays, there is the truth of this Baby." Christmas seems to annually take my heart on an excursion back to a place I long for and can never return to. The only thing that remains unchanged throughout the years...the star still leads us to the Baby. And deny it as some voices may...the whole world knows this to be true. The star still leads to the Baby. Come as you are...
...I guess I heard all that in those simple bells this evening.

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