“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” — Luke 2:19
The weekend following Thanksgiving, Chester Friends and friends rang the bells for the Salvation Army at our local Kroger store. It was reported that we collected almost $1,600 on that Friday and Saturday.
I am always amazed at how much money is generated when we throw our nickels, dimes, quarters and green stuff into one pot. When we know what the goal is, we become that beloved community working for one common good.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is when mom would gather us kids up, throw us in the car and take us into the city of Minneapolis to look at the Christmas windows — oh, how magical that event was. The swirling and twirling figures all dressed so brightly and gaily were a small child’s gift of magical delight.
But the cherry on the top for me was standing in front of the Salvation Army Band and hearing them play and sing Christmas carols on a cold winter’s night. As a small child I peered up at them, listening with a heart filled with wonder and love.
My Grandmother was always on these holiday events with us and in her Norwegian dialect reminded us of the importance of giving because, “It is what Jesus told us to do.”
The ringing of the bells on those cold blustery nights in Minnesota sunk deep into my heart, mind and soul. The echo from the bells would slowly drift away as the harmony of the soldiers’ voices would be swallowed up in the brisk air.
I can say meeting the Salvation Army for the first time was a spiritual moment for my tender heart and I heard the call of God. After hearing the bells ring I wanted to go and do likewise. I wanted to serve … I wanted to sing … I wanted to hand a cup of hot chocolate to those in need.
But most of all I wanted to spread the Good News that Christ had come for all and remind others when we work together for one common good there can be, “Peace on earth and good will for all.”
I am grateful for those hearty bell ringers from the North – they stood for hours ringing in the frigid cold to collect for those less fortunate.
It is my prayer this Holy Season when you hear the bells ringing you are reminded of the Great Love of God, and like Mary you listen for the deeper call of your heart as you ponder how God is calling you.
Please fill your pockets with change and let the casting of the money for the Salvation Army kettle become a prayerful reminder that we are called to be a part of a caring community filled with awe and wonder as we become servants of God.
Nancy McCormick and husband Mike are pastors of Chester and Springfield Friends, and Nancy is Wilmington College’s campus minister.