You may have seen in the news this week that it is a historic time at St. Luke’s with the repair of the carillon bells! Nearly 14,000 pounds of 60-year-old church bells are being taken down for repair this week and will be shipped to The Verdin Company in Cincinnati, OH for restoration. This process will take approximately eight to nine months!
Today, I want to share with you, three reasons why I think this event is so special for our church and community.
First, a little history on the bells:
The Carillon bells were a gift to St. Luke’s from the family of the late Vernon V. Harris, a 42-year church member. Mr. Harris died before the carillon’s dedication on September 16, 1956, and the bells are his memorial.
The bells were installed at St. Luke’s in 1957. In addition to celebrating Sunday services, weddings, and other joyous occasions over the decades, the St. Luke’s carillon has sounded for solemn events as well. At the request of Governor Frank Keating, the Carillon was rung on April 20, 1995, honoring all those killed in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building the previous day. In the early 1980s, when American citizens were held hostage in Iran, St. Luke’s bells tolled daily at noon with other bells across the U.S. At the request of the federal government, churches and other institutions with chimes and carillons joined each mid-day to remind Americans of the men and women then imprisoned in the American Embassy in Tehran.
The five largest bells have inscriptions. The largest bell repeats the angels’ tidings to shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.” The second largest bears the psalmist’s exhortation: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.” Another declares, “A house of prayer for all people, St. Luke’s Methodist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.” On the fourth: “Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me – and I shall find my all in all.” A fifth bell is inscribed, “Dedicated to the memory of Vernon V. Harris, December 16, 1881-April 23, 1954, by his family.”
Second, the repair of the carillon represents more than just an instrument. Through the centuries, ringing of the bells has symbolized a call to worship. We live in a time when church attendance across our nation is in decline, but there are still churches experiencing growth. St. Luke’s is one of these churches! By sharing our message of hope with the community and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, we can continue to grow. Growing the church means growing the kingdom of God and that is why we make it our mission to share God’s love and bring Hope to the World. Just as the generations of men and women who came before us more than 127 years ago came to worship in this place, we continue on with the legacy of sharing Christ in our community and even around the world.
Third, a meaningful worship experience and incredible music creates a positive, uplifting atmosphere that is so needed in our lives today. With all the demands and pain we experience daily, each of us desperately need a place to come and worship, a place where we can be our authentic selves and fill up with a spirit of hope for the week ahead. I would love to have you join us this Sunday at one of our campuses.
Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Psalms 150: 1-5