Pennies from heaven!
by Terry Camsey, Major –
We awoke to snow today…in SUN CITY, California. Unheard of!
Strange, too, since I have been meaning for days to write something for the Christmas issue of New Frontier, and turning over thoughts in my mind. Inevitably, memories—some humorous, some nostalgic, some sad—come to mind of previous Christmas seasons.
(And what a wonderful gift of God is memory…the ability to recapture thoughts and emotions of days long past…to relive and rehearse them again in the mind. The older I get, the more precious those memories are, especially of an Army that was and may never be again, since its activities reflected another time and place.)
The first cameo that sprang to mind unexpectedly was of Christmas caroling with the San Francisco Citadel Band back in the early 1970s (can it really be 30 years ago?). One of the activities was to go to blocks of apartments that enclosed a central courtyard. People would open the overlooking windows and, if they appreciated the music, throw coins down to the several waiting collectors.
Some of us had a wicked sense of humor and, seeing those collectors scrambling to locate the pennies, we couldn’t help but toss a few coins out of our own pockets when the collectors weren’t looking. All right, I know that some might not see the humor, but think of the pleasure it gave to collectors when residents of the apartments were not throwing any coins down!
A second memory that came to mind was also of San Francisco days. The windows of the shops in Union Square were always beautifully dressed at Christmas and it was a joy to see the smiles and wonder on faces of young children. Beryl and I were there quite late (as I recall) one night. It was bitterly cold and, as we passed one darkened shop doorway, we spotted a young lady sitting on the ground surrounded by her young children. She was not begging overtly and we had almost passed by completely before we became aware she was there.
We walked on a few steps but could go no further. I said to Beryl, “We have to give her something” and so we returned and gave her as much money as we could then afford. I don’t remember her reaction but—over the many years—I have never forgotten the incident and wonder whatever became of that little family.
Of course, not all will accept a gift (is it a gift if not accepted?). And I recall a time even earlier, probably in the early 1960s. I was working as an environmental health officer with Westminster City Council in the heart of London.
In the center of “my district” was a Salvation Army Men’s Social Service facility. As I went about my business I frequently saw the men roaming the streets during the day. One Christmas, I was filled with compassion and felt a need to do something for them.
I filled envelopes with money and a note saying something like, “I give you this in the name of Christ Jesus who loves you.” My plan was to give the envelopes to men I saw on the streets. Do you know, I could not give away one! As soon as I approached any of the men they would run off in the other direction, scared to death!
My gift was not received. Was I wrong in trying to give it?
It occurs to me that there is a parallel here. God gave the world the gift of his son at Christmas. And that son brought the gift of eternal life. Many times we try to offer the gift, only to have it refused. Should we stop trying? Surely not.
This “treasure from heaven” must be shared, else it may never be accepted. And, if we do not offer it—even if unwanted—then who will?