Two Saturdays ago I participated in Covenant’s bell ringing for the Salvation Army. Between singing carols with other Covenant members (badly on my part), trying to ring some sort of melody with the bells, and greeting people as they walked by, I really got into the Advent spirit. One story in particular I’d like to share.
My fellow bell ringer had stepped aside to help two women with their questions, leaving me to my enthusiastic ringing and (because it’s me) dancing to the carols I was trying to ring out. Several cars slowed down as they drove by me, all drivers smiling and waving.
Several minutes later, after my partner had come back to ringing and we were trying to remember all the words to 12 Days of Christmas, a woman burst out of the mall doors. She came over to me and said “this is all your fault.” My brain raced; who was she? What was my fault? With a smile she put several dollars in the kettle and handed me an item. It was a heart keychain with the words “the pure of heart will see God” engraved on it. Surprised that this woman would be giving me something, I didn’t hear the rest of her words. According to my fellow bell ringer, she said “I haven’t stopped by one of these things in years but on seeing your joy, I just had to.” She left me with another smile as I wondered at her kindness.
I share this not to confirm that being joyous puts people in a giving spirit (though I certainly think it does) but to share this moment in front of the mall when Christ appeared, with almost twenty days until Christmas remaining. In my joy, this woman saw the face of Christ in me. In her generous spirit, in her sharing of herself, and in her affirmation of what I had to give (that joy she recognized), I saw the face of Christ in her.
Christ came as a baby over two thousand years ago and Christ will come again. And – as this woman reminded me – Christ comes in the here and now, in moments like I experienced while ringing bells, in moments of generosity and joy, in so many different ways and places, Christ comes. Rejoice, believers, rejoice!