Tuesday, April 30, 2013



My granddaughters play in a church bell choir.

Bells range in size, weight, and ring tone. Smaller ones have a softer, high sound. Then there are those in the mid-range and others with large, deep voices. Handbell choirs have at least twelve players, one for each note in the chromatic scale. If the ensemble is larger, it will usually be arranged in octaves, such as 25 participants for two octave groups.

Watching a bell choir is fascinating. Never does a player actually play a line or phrase of a tune with one bell—but only one note at a time. If the piece calls for another note, the sound must come from another bell and someone else is probably ringing it.

Normally, handbell ringers perform using one or two bells, one for each hand. In certain pieces of music, players may be asked to work with four or six bells, two or three per hand and perhaps some behind them, and slightly out of reach. My they are busy!

The bell ringer needs to be exact in counting the rhythm in order to come in at the exact moment when the note is needed for the song. I enjoy watching the lips of some players as they count meticulously, and am amazed at how few notes are missed. Players who play several bells often scurry around behind a table of bells, quickly choosing the correct instrument, ringing the note, then going on to another.

Living our lives, playing on a team, and working in Christian ministry in many ways are similar to playing bells. It takes every person’s gift—or note—to make the “music.” Romans 12: 4-7 tells us God equips everyone differently.

 According to 1 Corinthians 12:11 and 1 Peter 4:10 every believer has at least one gift of grace to build up God’s people and express God’s love to others.  Beyond that, we have unique talents imparted by God and supplemented by our parents, and social, academic environments.

Then, who we are drives it all. What do we do with what we have?

Paul wrote in 1Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you.” Then he says in 2 Timothy 1:6, after thanking God for Timothy’s faith, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God (2 Timothy 1:6NIV) and adds, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Just as with bells, if your note isn’t played, the music won’t be the same. Furthermore, if you don’t use your gifts they’ll crumble to ashes like a dead fire, and warmth, love, wisdom and hope probably will be diminished among the people God gives you to influence.

Dump the ashes, shake the grates, fuel the fire with new faith and a new vision. Allow God’s spirit to breathe new life into your ministry and play the notes God assigned to you in His great symphony!
© Ada Brownell April 2013