Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Ring the Bells

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Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

– Leonard Cohen, Anthem

IMG_0710This week I added a number of bells to our Advent/Christmas tree—and found myself thinking, over and over again, of this song by Leonard Cohen.

Advent is a time of assessment, as well as waiting. After all, it’s wise to have some idea of what we’re waiting for. We are not waiting for perfection, nor are we striving for flawlessness. In fact, Jesus was born so that God might enter into our imperfect lives. Incarnation is about becoming human—and humans are by our very nature imperfect.

This does not mean that we do not strive to improve, or to live more fully. But perfection—at least in the common cultural understanding of the word—is not our goal. There is a crack in everything, and it is through that crack that God’s light comes streaming through into our lives.

Thus the goal is not to strive for flawlessness, but to learn how to ring the bells that are good enough to ring. That means singing out our praises even when we know we can’t carry a tune, because the desire to sing, and the joy we find in singing, brings glory to God.

That means being as kind and caring as we can to those who make our lives difficult—not because we think we’re better, but because we’re ringing God’s bell of love in order to change the world, one relationship at a time.

That means giving out of our abundance because the food, clothing, and other goods that we share are bells that ring out messages of hope to the hopeless, warmth in the winter, sufficiency for the hungry, and joy for those who are mired in despair.

Do you live joyously in spite of your imperfections, seeking to spread God’s love without regard for how well you do it?

What bells are you being called to ring in this holy season?

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