12/23/09

'I Heard the Bells'

We don’t hear Christmas bells often anymore—especially in California! But some of the fond memories of my childhood were the peeling of church bells in the Midwest, especially during this wondrous time of year. The bells called us to church, and they filled our hearts with joy. They reminded us of the power of Christmas carols to point us heavenward when overwhelmed by earthly struggles.

The text of one old carol by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow still have meaning for our day.

“I heard the bells on Christmas day,” Longfellow wrote, “their old familiar carols play.” We are so familiar with Christmas carols. We’ve sung them since childhood, and perhaps it’s easy to recite them mindlessly and lose their truth. But his words struck a tone in my heart this year. “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men.”

How about you? As you look around at the economic upheaval, broken relationships, crime, corruption, and wars everywhere—is your heart at peace? Or does despair and hopelessness color your days? Where is the answer for times like these?

Verse four of Longfellow’s song offers the reason for our hope: “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.” Christians know that God reigns; He is in control (1 Chron. 29:11-13; Psalm 47:7-8; 115:3; Is. 46:9-11). Beyond these days of despair there is coming a day of true, lasting peace, because the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6) will return (John 14:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:16-17) and His righteous rule will change everything. Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigns! (Rev. 19:6b)

Have you heard the bells of hope, anticipating His return? I wish for you God’s true peace in the days ahead.

1 comment:

Marja said...

Thank you for this one Dawn. It is funny, but the other day my husband and me were walking in the old town of Camarillo (here in Southern California) and we heard the church bells of the old Spanish mission, it was indeed a wonderful and very peaceful sound!