Bells

(this was originally posted 6/17/08–cannot get it ‘back’ to June, so posting it here.)

Bells…

I was just in my kitchen and through the open window I could hear my wind chimes. They have a lovely sound and when the breeze comes, it is so beautiful. Got me thinking about the significance of bells (the forerunners of chimes). I looked up bells in the Bible and the only place it is noted (and this is significant, I think) says that they were part of the priestly robe that was worn into the Holy of Holies (the Old Testament tabernacle’s innermost part that only the high priest could enter). Bells were present and audible so that the priest would not die upon entry to the Holy Place (Exodus 28:35). I think that means that they signified that the priest had done the work of cleansing his heart and was an audible reminder to him to keep it that way so he could be fit for entry and worship.

Could bells signify cleansing, spiritual cleansing? Well, I’m inclined to think so from personal experience. Before I go there, though, how about if we look at how bells are present in the Church (as I know it, which is only cursorily). Protestants don’t use bells much…I guess bells got reformed out with Luther or Calvin or maybe it is more of a U.S. church phenomenon…modernization of the church–no beauty, no sounds, no sights, no smells. I never heard bells at the churches I grew up in. The Catholic church has bells and uses them to call people to worship, to announce and celebrate a wedding, and, in some places, I’ll bet they are still rung when someone in the village dies, or when invaders or bad weather threaten. Historically they have been an effective form of communication to the surrounding area. But I think there is more going on…

If you tie the Biblical bell use and the modern day bell call to worship together, I think they click. The priest entered the Holy Place to worship…bells were ringing. Church bells ring to call Christians to worship. I think bells remind us to prepare for worship–to examine our hearts and bring before Him all that stands between us and Him so that we can stand clean and clear before Him as we worship. Bells signify cleansing…

Years ago now, I was part of a prayer group that went into a church building that was experiencing…umm..let’s say demonic oppression. We prayed for awhile and right before it was discerned (by pray-ers with more discernment than I) that the place had been cleansed I heard bells ringing, on and on they went. I remember whispering ‘Bells!’ and popping my head up and looking around for their source. This church didn’t have bells and we were in a location where bells could not be heard from anywhere else. The bells were heard spiritually. God was kind enough to let me know that all was in the clear, the work had been done, the place was cleansed. What a great honor He bestowed on me…He is so kind, friends, so kind.

What is the significance of cleansing, say a heart or a place? Well, as I’m reading in Matthew 3 (for an email Bible study group) I see that cleansing is part of repentance (turning around and facing God, which brings a radical change of heart) and repentance makes way for the Holy Spirit to come…yeah, that part of God that brings supernatural gifts, helps us grow in fruits of the spirit, draws us closer to God and Jesus and reveals His wisdom to us. Can’t be a Christian without the Holy Spirit….

Bells, hope they make a comeback…

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