Summary: This Advent sermon uses some of the bells of the Christmas Season as illustrations to teach us how to get the most out of this wonderful Advent Season.
“THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS”
“I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play…” “Ring the bells, ring the bells, let the whole world know, Jesus Christ was born today, many years ago.” “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?” “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. O what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.” “Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock…” “Caroling, caroling through the snow, Christmas bells are ringing…” With time to think, I am sure that you can come up with many more Christmas songs that tell of the joyful sounds of bells.
Last Sunday we thought together about the “Lights of Christmas.” Today let us consider another popular Christmas symbol. The bell. When I sat down and started to think about the bells of this season I came up with a long, long list. Allow me to share a few from that list. 1. The bells of the Salvation Army kettle keepers. 2. Musical bells. 3. Alarm clock bells. 4. Cash register bells.(Or for many today it is beeps instead of bells.) 5. Hangover bells. 6. School Bells. 7. Dinner Bells. 8. Church bells.
I. THE BELLS OF THE SALVATION ARMY KETTLE KEEPERS.
Shortly after every Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember, I have heard the familiar ding, ding, ding, of the small bell that the person beside the red Salvation Army kettle rings. I remember asking my parents for coins to place in the kettle, located in front of G.C. Murphy Five & Ten Cent Store. Christmas seems to bring out the best in many people. They give to so many great causes. The Army, the Needy Fund, the Falmouth Service Center, Toys For Tots, Fairwinds Mental Health Clubhouse, Upper Cape Chaplaincy, the Falmouth Church of the Nazarene, other favorite charities, and on and on.
The Salvation Army’s mission is to care for those in physical, material, and spiritual need. This is also the calling of every Christian. Our world is filled with a countless number of men, women, boys, and girls who are lost in their sin. Christmas gives us numerous opportunities to witness to the grace and goodness of Jesus Christ. We are a Christian army moving onward, fighting the sins of the world with the “Sword of the Lord,” and with Christian love. March out and boldly tell someone about Jesus.(I know, it will make your heart beat faster… But you are a soldier. You can do it.)
Personally, I like to send Christmas cards with Scripture verses that give glory to the Christ Child. When someone tells me “Happy Holidays,” I reply, “Merry Christmas.” There are all kinds of ways in which we can work Jesus into our conversations during the Advent Season. May the bells of the Salvation Army remind us to let our witness peal out loudly, clearly, and unashamedly.
II. MUSICAL BELLS.
It thrills my heart when I hear the music of my Savior on secular radio stations. During the rest of the year, some of these same stations play vulgar and sensual music. What a change. Last week, during an hour drive in the car, I counted two sensual Christmas songs, several secular carols: But the majority of the music consisted of traditional carols about Jesus. During the past few weeks, one station in particular has played “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” not once, but many times. WOW! The name and love of Jesus is being heard. Why not phone or write these stations and say “THANK YOU?”
I always appreciate our choir and other musicians who practice for many weeks to help us to enjoy the Christmas Story again each year. Don’t forget to invite your friends to attend our annual Christmas Musical. Most will not come if we do not invite them.
III. CLOCK BELLS.
My tradition for many years has been to set my alarm clock to ring very early the day after Thanksgiving Day. Some time between five and five thirty I can be found standing in the cold morning darkness waiting for the store with the best Christmas bargains to open. My well prepared list points me to the items I need and then I hurry through the check out lane and then rush off to a half dozen or more stores. Before Noon, most of my shopping is done. But, oh-do-I-hate-to-get-up when the bell rings. But it is worth doing. So I get up. Some may want to set an alarm to remind them to take time for personal devotions in this busy season. Do not skimp. Do them well. Find a time that works for you and stick to that same pattern. We must study the Word and pray.
Every fifteen minutes the Seth Thomas clock in our home plays the Westminster chimes. A constant reminder that time is passing. At times, it rings and the sound does not register in my mind. How many of you have heard the warning bells of Scripture ringing again and again, reminding you, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”(2 Corinthians 6:2) Life passes quickly. And then what. The Bible speaks of “the signs of times,”(Matthew 16:3) that remind us of the Second Advent/Coming of Jesus. Christmas is about Heaven and Hell. The symbols of this Season remind us to get ready to die. Jesus came to save us from our sins and now he is preparing a place for us in Heaven. Do not miss it. Confess him as your Lord. Accept his salvation while you still have time. When you do, you will be amazed at the joy Jesus will give.