bell ringer

Cody Bishop rings a bell beside a red kettle outside the Knoxville Hy-Vee.

I enjoy watching football, both Knoxville High Panther and college games. A key component of many football plays is the handoff. The moment that the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back is crucial. If it does not happen just as it should, the play fails.

The handoff is an important component in today’s society and in life. I see it every day. I have especially witnessed the handoff as I ring the bell next to the Salvation Army red kettle.

Parents of children will hear the bell as soon as they step out of their cars in the parking lot. What comes next is the handoff. The parents reach into their pocket, billfold or purse and retrieve coins or a dollar or two and hand off the money to the child.

As they approach the kettle, the child gets an explanation of how to put the money in it. I’m sure every bell-ringer has seen this happen.

I also often hear parents explain where the money will go and how it will help. It is a delight to observe the handoff. It’s a practical way for parents to teach their children to be generous. The children are learning by doing. They learn that giving to others helps make their lives better and is a good thing to do.

Whether parents realize it, they are teaching and modeling the example Jesus refers to in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 25, “I was hungry and you gave me food.”

Another handoff that I observe is perhaps more touching than what happens at the kettle. This is the handoff of family responsibility and leadership from one generation to another when a parent passes. I witness this handoff from elderly parents to their surviving adult children. It is a very personal and sacred thing to observe.

We truly do hand off our values and traditions from one generation to the next. Even our savior, Jesus, performed the handoff as he was dying upon the cross. In John 19:26-27, we read, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then Jesus said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”

There are as many different reasons as there are ways that we do the handoff. Some handoffs are not so good. I prefer to lift up the good handoffs, those that contribute to the well-being of our town and our world.

Parents have many opportunities to hand off the right things to their children. It is our obligation to teach our children right from wrong and how to help others.

In this season of Advent and Christmas, may we look upon the light of the world, and may our handoffs be blessings to those around us.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Brent Hanna serves First United Methodist Church in Knoxville and Columbia United Methodist Church.


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