The sun has not yet risen upon Christmas Day, 1957. I awaken and probe my way through the darkened house to the Christmas tree in the living room. Underneath the tree I discover a toy ice cream truck. Barely able to contain my excitement, I enter my parents’ bedroom to share my joy, preempting their regularly-scheduled alarm clock. Even today that toy is a treasured reminder of the Good Humor truck that was an integral summertime part of my neighborhood, heralding its arrival with gently-ringing bells that were a joyous call to relief from the hot weather. Do you hear what I hear?
As life trudges on following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, the burden and sting of sin weigh heavily upon us. Pierced by the words and actions of those directly/indirectly responsible for our loss, we find the process of forgiveness elusive. Most importantly, our intense focus on the sins of our offenders masks our own sinful response. Our spirit is restless, plagued by uncertainty and doubt. As Martin Luther once wrote, we need to take Christ’s yoke upon us in order to experience freedom from our burdens:
“The yoke that Christ lays upon us is sweet, and His burden is light. When sin has been forgiven and the conscience has been liberated from the burden and sting of sin, then a Christian can bear everything easily. Because everything within is sweet and pleasant, he willingly does and suffers everything.”
During our desert, transitional time, Jesus is cleansing and transforming our hearts so that we can be effective, believable, and trustworthy ministers of His love and compassion. The bells of Christmas remind us that we are reconciled to Jesus through His mercy, grace, and peace. Do you hear what I hear?