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Communion (1995 Series)

The Liberty Bell

Scheduled for July 6

Humidity was invented in Philadelphia -- probably by Benjamin Franklin.  It was that kind of a day.  My wife and I, with our two boys (our daughter not yet born) were visiting my sister and her family in New Jersey.  We took some time to visit the city of Philadelphia, in particular Independence Hall.

Independence Hall is the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed.  As we entered the hall, our families split up into small groups.  I had only my two boys with me when we went into the small outdoor pavilion in which the Liberty Bell is kept.

Our tour guide must have been affected by the humidity.  She was a summer hire, and obviously tired and bored.  In a sing-song voice that matched the weather, she told us about the bell.  Where it was cast;  how much it weighed;  how it was brought to Philadelphia;  for whom it was tolling when it cracked -- I’ve forgotten everything she said that day.

Except for the last two sentences:  “If you are an American citizen, the Liberty Bell is part of your heritage.  You are permitted to touch the Bell.”

 

Touch the Liberty Bell?  You might as well have told me that I could take home the original Declaration of Independence.  My father raised his son a patriot.  I get a lump in my throat when the flag is paraded by;  I can’t finish the Star Spangled Banner at ball games (and not just because of the high notes).  The thought of actually touching the Liberty Bell stirred deep emotions within me.

We waited until all the others in our group had filed out.  I took my sons forward.  I told my oldest boy to touch the Bell.  He did so, with all the solemn dignity that only a five year can have when doing a very “adult” thing. 

I picked up my two year old son, and told him to touch the Bell.  He pounded on it with both hands, as a toddler will, with a big smile on his face.  Is there any joy like that of a toddler having fun in his father’s arms?

When I put him down, I took a moment to reflect.  Then, eyes wet, with my own two hands, I reached out and touched the Liberty Bell.

 

If you are not a patriot, I cannot explain the moment.  If you are a patriot, I need not.

 

In a very real sense, I held “liberty” in my hands that day.  Today, in exactly the same sense, you will hold the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in your hands.

·         Take it, as my older son touched, with the solemn dignity of one who is permitted to share something far higher than oneself.

·         Take it, as my younger son touched, with all the joy of a child in his father’s arms.

·        Take it, as their father touched, with tears in your eyes -- remembering that your salvation, like liberty, is not free.  It was bought with a price beyond measure, at Calvary.

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