High in the tower was a chime of Christmas bells, the most beautiful in the world. But no one had heard them for years. They were Christmas chimes, you see, and it was the custom on Christmas Eve for the people to bring gifts to the Christ-child and when the best gift was offered, there came sounding through the music of the choir the Christmas chimes.
But for many, many years the bells had not been heard. It was said that people had grown careless of their gifts for the Christ-child and no offering was brought great enough to deserve the music of the chimes.
Now, a number of miles from the city there lived a boy named Pedro and his little brother. They knew little about the chimes, but had heard of the service on Christmas Eve, and planned to go to the beautiful celebration.
Christmas Eve was bitter cold with a few snowflakes flying. Pedro and Little Brother slipped away quietly early in the afternoon. Before nightfall they saw the lights of the city. Suddenly they saw something dark on the snow near their path. A poor woman had fallen in the snow. Pedro knew what had to be done. “You will have to go on alone, Little Brother,” he said, “Everyone is at church now, but when you return bring help.
“Please see and hear everything for me; and oh! If you get a chance to slip up to the altar without getting in the way, take this little silver piece of mine and lay it down for my offering when no one is looking. Don’t forget where you have left me, and forgive me for not going with you.”
The great church was a wonderful place that night. The organ played, the thousands of people sang, and then came the procession. So many wonderful gifts! Last of all came the king. A murmur went up as he removed his crown, set with precious stones, and laid it on the altar. But still, only the old cold wind was heard high in the tower.
The choir began the closing hymn. Then it happened. Through the night air, ever so softly, came the music of the chimes, rising and falling away up there in the night sky.
The people sat spellbound for a moment. Then they all stood and looked toward the altar to see what great gift had awakened the long-silent bells. But all the nearest of them saw was the childish figure of Little Brother who had crept softly down the aisle when no one was looking and had laid Pedro’s little piece of silver on the altar.
Rev. Clyde Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several Central Texas newspapers and will soon have a book of his writings published.