1 Praise God in his sanctuary! Praise God in his fortress, the sky! 2 Praise God in his mighty acts! Praise God as suits his incredible greatness! 3 Praise God with the blast of the ram’s horn! Praise God with lute and lyre! 4 Praise God with drum and dance! Praise God with strings and pipe! 5 Praise God with loud cymbals! Praise God with clashing cymbals! 6 Let every living thing praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
“I heard the bells on Christmas day” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poet was reflecting on the grief and strife in the world struggling with, “Hate is strong that mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men.” Darkness and despair had rolled into the poet’s heart; he had suffered great loss and his country was being torn apart by war. To him it looked as if God may have deserted humanity. Yet, as he heard the bells ringing the darkness lifted as he realized “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” What a wonderful sentiment caused by the bells of Christmas.
For centuries bells have been rung on Christmas day as a call to joy and celebration. Wherever you might be in the village, awake or asleep, you would hear those bells and know it is a time for joy and celebration. The bell called everyone to the celebration; it was universal. There was also another reason for ringing bells; at one time it was thought that demons and evil spirits were repulsed by loud noises such as shouting, blowing trumpets, or ringing bells. Ringing the Christmas bells was a sign that the one who truly conquers evil has been born and is active in driving evil from this world. The bells rung at Christmas remind us that evil was defeated by Jesus and that we, as his followers, are clearing out the holdovers until his coming again.
The glorious Christmas chimes help us to recognize that even when it looks bleak, God has prevailed, and we are living in God’s new and great age. The bells of Christmas call us to the great feast that is the incarnation of Jesus the true king of creation. The bells are a warning to the enemy that the great conqueror is here, and that evil will be destroyed. When we hear the bells, we must participate in this glorious celebration. They beckon us to enter the feast, wherever we are we are called to join the song. Now as Christmas approaches “Come on ring those bells, light the Christmas tree, Jesus is the king.”
Christ Jesus, let us honor you with our joyful celebration; let our rich music and noise fill the air, let the sound of your glory drown out all competing noises and may we be called to your feast. Amen.
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