The Emmanuel Bell
This past Holy Week, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris celebrated its 850th Birthday. To commemorate this special occasion, the Cathedral was gifted with a new set of bells. On Palm Sunday the bridges and gardens around the Cathedral overflowed with people to hear the first ringing of the Cathedral’s new bells. Not since before the French Revolution have the bells pealed in perfect harmony. During the Revolution, all of the bells, except the famed Emmanuel Bell, were melted down to make cannons and coins.
There is an Easter tradition in France that on Good Friday all of the church bells, “Les cloche volants,” fly to Rome carrying with them all the grief and pain for Christ’s suffering and death. The bells remain eerily silent for three days. On Easter morning the ‘flying bells’ return, ringing for the resurrection of life and laden full with gifts of chocolate bells and decorative eggs for all. Christians open up their windows and crowd into the streets to celebrate the pealing sounds of hope. The bells ring to remind every heart that God is and will always be a God of resurrections, life not death, and unfathomable love.
For centuries, the French have joked that the bells of Notre Dame have rung off-key. But not this Easter Sunday! With the faithful Emmanuel Bell at the helm, the flying bells of Notre Dame returned on Easter Sunday pealing in perfect harmony so that all would know that God was and will always be with us.
Every year, we each do our best to participate in Lent, walk the holy road from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and then shout with joy, “He is Risen, He is Risen, indeed” on Easter morning. But how do we keep the bells ringing the rest of the year? How do we live in such a way that the Emmanuel Bell continues to peal in our souls reminding us that even on our darkest day, there is still hope?
How do we live each day with the confidence of Easter—believing in resurrections, percolating miracles, and a faith that joy will come in the morning, even after our darkest night?
Love is the answer. It always was and will always be. We cannot escape what happened at Golgotha, nor should we ever want to—it’s the most beautiful example of sacrificial love of all time. One’s willingness to give up their life for another, for many. Although, we aren’t called to stretch our bodies out on a cross, we do owe God to make our lives count for something. Love requires sacrifice. Our Creator allows us a measure of freedom, imagination, and creativity in how we love. Some of us feed, some of us embrace, some of us mend, some of us speak love words and some of us forgive. Sadly, all of us often misstep and love poorly. But that’s part of the Easter message too—God’s willingness to give us another try, and another try to ring the bells tucked deep inside the belfry of our souls.
Like that faithful Emmanuel bell in Notre Dame Cathedral, may our souls ring in faith, so that all know without a shadow of a doubt the Easter message—that love wins!
Live in Hope,