The bells, the bells (31-03-22)
A Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 3. 1, 11 - 14
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
St Peter’s church in Walgrave stands majestically in the heart of the village. Like many of our church buildings it is prominent and visible from some distance on every approach into Walgrave. To help make its presence felt even more, the church has bells which can also be heard from some distance away. On Monday, following the changing of the clocks, there was some consternation. The church clock was still an hour behind – or was it? The clock on the church was telling the correct time, but the bells were stuck one hour behind. WhatsApp messages flew around PCC members to seek out a solution.
Personally I love hearing the bells as they mark out every quarter hour. I grew up in a house with a chiming clock and a village church with a peel of bells, so I find that ever present marking of time strangely reassuring and comforting. The bells ring at weddings and funerals, and historically they have been tolled to mark significant occasions. A bell was tolled as part of the 8pm clap for the NHS during the first Covid lockdown, and I have no doubt that church bells will mark the Platinum Jubilee in some way in June.
Both church and bells are a great reminder of the presence of the church in our midst, and that presence then spills out into our community through our relationships, our ‘social action’ and our connections with school, pub, village hall and various other village groups. We are called to use our time wisely and ‘to do good while we live’. There can be huge satisfaction in this kind of toil, which is a gift of God.
Also on Monday, there was a meeting in church to discuss the village response to the plight of Ukrainian refugees. Some people have already signed up to host families but this may not be feasible for many of us. However, there are other important tasks needing your help: admin and communication; transport; linguistic support if you happen to be good at languages (or even better speak Ukrainian or Russian); educational support; finance and fundraising; and many more. Every contribution will help no matter how small.
Our presence and our social action at the heart of our community are a vital part of Leading your Church into Growth. A growing church is actively present and caring within its community. These new opportunities are a gift from God. They provide a lasting legacy, written with kindness and compassion in human hearts.
Why not use the church bells as a regular prompt for prayer every time you hear them ring. And like the bells, let us make our Christian presence visible across our benefice using our time wisely for the benefit of those around us.
Lord of eternity, you have blessed us with a time for everything, may we share your love and compassion with those in our community as ‘ambassadors for Christ’. Amen.
Christ, be our light by Bernadette Farrell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8FUPItZ5Xs