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with bells on

"And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, 'Holy to the LORD.'"  (Zechariah 14:20 ESV)

I grew up with horses, and a familiar (and happy) sound at Christmas was the chime of the old German sleighbells attached to the door handle of our home. And every so often, when the weather was cold enough and the snow was the right depth, we would hitch up one of the horses to an old sleigh we had in the barn. The hitching part was more of an ordeal than you might think, but those times made precious memories for us as a family. The verse written above comes at the end of the book of Zechariah and describes the restoration of God's city of Zion. Some of the images given in the Bible for the new creation are ones I don't immediately relate to, like streets of gold or gates of pearl. But this one, horses with bells on, strikes a deep chord within me. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.) There was nothing in my youth which spoke of peace and well-being like handling a well-mannered horse. And at Christmas, putting a bow on the halter, or bells around the neck, well, that was just a little bit of heaven. And maybe, that's the point. Zechariah speaks of the day when all things will be holy, and we might be tempted to think of that holiness as something only intangible or ethereal. But the prophet tells us plainly that the holy world which is coming will include horses with bells on. And I for one can't wait!


Image credit. Photo at top, source unknown. Below, photo courtesy of the Anglican Church of New Zealand at


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