Silver Bells and the Fast-Food Drive Through Line
I have many favorite Christmas carols, but if you asked me about my favorite secular Christmas song, it would have to be “Silver Bells.” A couple of different stories are told about the writer’s inspiration for this song including the Salvation Army Bell Ringers and a bell that sat on the writer’s desk, but when I hear the song, I hear church bells.
There’s a spot in Candler Park in Atlanta where we used to go to visit our daughter, and as we ate our lunch on outside tables, church bells would play hymns on the hour. I wondered how many people recognized the songs, but still they played ringing out the good news. "Silver Bells" reminds us that as we go about our business here at Christmas, God is trying to interject himself into our days through those ringing bells.
The other day, I sat in a fast-food drive through line and had just received my food. Three lanes must merge into one to exit. The driver to my right was stationary, so I thought he hadn’t received his food. I pulled forward about a foot, but he did as well. It was the kind of thing that we often laugh about because it was so synchronized. But when I made eye contact with the young man in his truck, I realized that was not the present circumstance. Though I couldn’t hear him, I could tell by his gestures and facial expression that he was spewing obscenities at me. I was so shocked at his rage, for a moment I was motionless. Then I held up my hand for him to go first, and he floored the gas.
I sat there as other cars followed him trying to understand what would drive someone to that kind of fury over nothing. Was it what had been done to him or was it a result of choices he made? Or both? I wanted to cry, and not just that he had hurt me, but I wanted to weep for a world of pain. That encounter was likely the only one that young man and I will ever have in this life. After I overcame being stunned by it, I realized God had entrusted me with the situation, and what I could do was pray God’s healing touch would come to him, and he could know how great God’s love is for him.
The encounter reminded me those silver bells ring out compassion for those who have no compassion. They ring out love for those whose hearts are hard. They ring healing for the raw edges and deep wounds and heartbreaks. They ring hope for those who are sad. They ring out a news of salvation so great, it’s almost unbelievable. And yet it is true. Amazingly true.
All the time, and in every place, even in the fast-food drive through line, God is trying to reach us and the whole world with the good news that “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
So, maybe “Silver Bells” is not a secular song after all. When you hear those bells ring, give thanks that our Lord is speaking his compassion, love, healing, and hope into the world and into our hearts.
May you have the merriest of Christmases. With much love.
To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com
Beverly Varnado copyright 2022