One thing that you hear all over Europe is bells. Just about every church in every town has bells. Some ring daily, some ring hourly, but bells are a very familiar sound throughout Europe. This morning, here in Hungary, I heard a church bell ringing and ringing, and it reminded me to write about the bells in London from my recent visit there.
In London we went to visit John Newton’s church, St. Mary Woolnoth. In the entryway there was a bell rope in red, white, and blue, the three colors of the British flag. I had such a strong urge to pull the bell rope that it was literally all I could do to keep from reaching out and giving it a tug. Those who know me, know that whenever I pass a bell, I’ve got to ring it—a character trait that’s often gotten me scolded. But, honestly, what are bells for, if not for ringing?
Safely inside, we heard the story of John Newton’s life. John Newton is the writer of the most famous and beloved hymn in the world: “Amazing Grace.” Newton’s life is actually reflected in those lyrics (http://www.constitution.org/col/amazing_grace.htm). Then we prayed and sang.
Someone in the group shared a prophecy in which it was predicted that the bells will ring all over the country. That’s when I realized that I had been in London for four days and had not heard one single bell. What I had heard was a lot of cars honking, and it seemed that honking had replaced bells in London. Someone else, having also noticed the bell rope, said, “Let’s ring the bells!” So we went to the entryway and one of the men unhooked the bell rope and began to pull it. Nothing. He pulled harder. Still nothing. He pulled even harder, getting a rhythm going. Silence. Somebody had either removed or silenced the bells. I was so disappointed and saddened that tears came to my eyes. A member of the group had noted that bells are rung to call people to worship and also to proclaim freedom. I had felt disappointed at the lack of worship and saddened by the lack of freedom.
So we left the church, and I was still feeling very sad. Then suddenly we were surrounded by bicycles, and all the bicycles were ringing their bells—we were surrounded by ringing bells! It was like God was reassuring us that even efforts to silence the bells will not succeed. We were all rejoicing like crazy people there in the streets of London.
God is good!