The entrance foyer in the local grocery store is small, with just enough room for people to get by as they go in and out. Yet, along the wall, a gentleman sits next to his red kettle, out of the way, but impossible not to notice as you walk by.
It’s that time of the year… on street corners, store fronts, and other places around that we hear the jingling bells of the Salvation Army and their “red kettles”. It serves as a reminder for us, just as Pope Francis’s recent tweet:
“To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.” ( @Pontifex, 11-25-13)
I would like to share with you my observations from my recent trips to the local grocery store concerning these kettles.
Next to the kettle sits a man with a larger than life personality, along with a smile and voice to match. At first glance, you can see the love and joy emanating from someone who is at peace with his life. Instead of ringing his bell, he sings Christmas songs from his church hymnal. As each man, woman, and child goes by, he takes a moment to look right at each one and individually wish them a “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless. Have a wonderful day”, then go back to his song. Every time I pass him, I feel a sense of peace come over me from his sincere, simple acts of kindness. Unfortunately, on my last trip, my peace quickly turned to sadness as I spent a few minutes talking to him.
I could not believe what I was witnessing right before my eyes, as one by one, I watched the responses of the people walking by him. In the short time I was there with him, a couple dozen people walked by. He greeted each person with a “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless” as I described earlier. I never heard one person respond back with a “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless”. Some sheepishly smiled back or said “thank you”. Others did their best to act as if they didn’t hear him, but certainly wouldn’t have won an Oscar for their attempts. One woman actually seemed distressed over his salutation, as if she was afraid of what he said to her.
Why has it become so hard to say, “Merry Christmas?”
Here is a recent example: Earlier this year, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 308 (aka: Merry Christmas bill) which removed any legal risks of saying “Merry Christmas” and other religious salutations in Texas public schools.
Two simple, yet beautiful words said to remind us of our faith and God’s promise to us of everlasting life in His heavenly Kingdom. What are we afraid of?
HAVE A BLESSED ADVENT AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS!
featured image: Elias Kordelakos/ shutterstock.com