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Out Our Way: Of trumpets and bells!

Matthew 6: 2- 4


November 24, 2017

Out our way, it's time to dust off the reindeer antler hat I bought Goliath years ago to celebrate the season. Lord, how he hates those things, but I told him that over at Walmart a lot of my fellow associates wear them with pride. Well, we will never agree on that item, but we do agree on another symbol of the season that is popping up all over town and that is the red bucket and dedicated folks ringing bells for the Salvation Army.

Even Goliath was willing to brave a terrible blizzard a few years back our at the mall. Setting up a kettle outside North 40 in the parking lot, he loaded onto his trailer with minimal fuss to go out and help the community. Sadly, the blizzard was so bad that day that we decided  after a very short time that it was just too cold and dangerous to be standing around in the parking lot ringing bells, so we loaded up and went back to the barn. Even so, I never forgot Goliath's willingness to help feed and clothe some of our poorest folks by daring the blizzard and, yes, even wearing the stupid reindeer antlers.

Fortunately most of the bell ringing is done inside where it is usually a bit warmer, but that doesn't take away from the generosity and warm hearts of those who organize the bell ringing and the numerous folks who volunteer for a two-hour stint or more ringing the Christmas bells.

And, of course, let us not forget the marvelous generosity of the folks who take the time to stop and put something into the red kettles. It is always amazing to see folks making a special effort to come put something in. Even the kids get into the act and how they light up when they put their gifts into the pot. 

Most of us never get to see the rest of the miracle - when the money brought in from the drive begins to make its way back out into the community during the rest of the year - but we know that it makes a big difference to a lot of folk. And that is why we give.

In the Temple in Jerusalem, there were receptacles for alms - something like a poor box, shaped like a trumpet - and when coins were put in it made noise. The rich liked everyone to know how generous they were and so they made quite a show of "sounding the trumpet." But the purpose of the "trumpet" was not to show off and make people admire you - it was there to help the poorest and those in greatest need. 

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he said, "There are two - You shall love the Lord your God with all your being, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The "trumpets" in the Temple allowed the truly righteous men and women to do both. Same with the kettle and bells. It is a chance to reflect on the love of God for us - and spread it around to others.

It doesn't matter if others see or don't see what you put in ... it doesn't even matter how much you put it. What matters is why you put anything in at all. When you are at Walmart, Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods, Kmart, the mall or anywhere else you hear the Christmas bells. Go find the kettle and do more than wish folks a Merry Christmas, help them have one ... and a happy new year!


John Bruington and Goliath serve at First Presbyterian Church and although they will officially retire at the end of December, the columns will continue - for as Goliath has observed  "God ain't done with us yet!"


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