“The Bell Still Rings,” New Era, Dec. 1988, 25
Several years ago just before Christmas, my niece, Shelly, grabbed her mom’s hand and, without explanation, led her into the privacy of the laundry room. “Mom,” she asked in a serious whisper, “is it okay if I believe just one more year?”
Since that memorable happening, our family has established a family tradition. Each Christmas Eve, we gather together around the tree. With the lights low and the fire burning in the fireplace, we ask the question once again, the most important question of the year, “Is it okay if we believe one more year?”—not only believe in the traditions of childhood with Santa Claus and reindeer, but more importantly in the message of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating. Do we believe in his mission, his atonement, his resurrection? Do we believe in his invitation to come and follow him?
Of course we are not really committing ourselves for only a year. We are pledged to follow the Savior forever. But we live life a day, a week, a month, a year at a time, and Christmas is a season to focus on the year ahead and reconfirm our discipleship.
After a declaration of belief by one and all, the following question is sometimes harder: When we believe, how will that affect how we live, how we feel, what we will do and what we will not do? We then commit to strive to live as we believe and to help each other all year long.
Next, someone reads aloud The Polar Express by Chris Von Allsburg. In the story, a young boy says, “I shook the bell. It made the most beautiful sound my sister and I had ever heard, but my mother said, ‘Oh, that’s too bad.’ ‘Yes,’ said my father, ‘it’s broken.’ My parents had not heard a sound,” the story continues. “At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Though I have grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”
Following the story, we each receive a small new bell on a red satin ribbon to wear around our necks during the holidays. We listen for its clear sound as a testimony and commitment that we truly believe and will strive to live as we believe. While the fire burns low, we then read the glorious account of the Christmas story recorded by Luke, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). And we believe.