There’s an old Christian song written in the late 1950’s that begins with these lyrics: “Ring the bells, ring the bells, let the whole world know…”
It’s actually a Christmas song as the next line says, “Christ was born in Bethlehem many years ago.”
But that old familiar tune played once again in my mind on this past Sunday. More times than I can count, I heard that song being sung in the country church where my family has belonged for generations.
It’s the same church where once again I am a member after many years of living in other areas of the country. This church is special to me for many reasons. My great-great grandparents were two of the eight founding members 200 years ago.
No, that’s not a typo. Our church was established in 1820 and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
During this covid-19 lock-down, it’s disheartening not to be able to attend worship services in our church and continue on with the many anniversary events that were planned for this year so far.
But we, those who attend this church, are the church.
As a fellowship of believers in Christ, we are a church regardless of whether we are in the building or out of it. We listen online as our pastor delivers not just his Sunday morning worship message but three weekly devotions to encourage us as well.
And we pray for those who have needs, reaching out to them as best we can during this time. Our faith and commitment to God doesn’t stop just because we are not permitted in our church building.
This past Sunday evening, many of us got into our vehicles, drove to our church, and situated our cars and trucks in the parking lot for a sole purpose.
We joined a state-wide effort of ringing church bells for three minutes at 7 p.m. to recognize and honor front-line workers, including medical personnel, first responders, and all other workers deemed essential during this pandemic.
A large, old bell graces a pedestal outside our church building and it rang loudly and clearly on Sunday evening. As we stayed in our cars, all who gathered there listened to it peal out across the countryside. I found it to be a moving experience, especially since our own daughter, a hospital nurse, contracted the virus and is still recovering.
After the bell stopped ringing, we all blew our vehicle horns in further support of those who toil so diligently to keep us safe from harm. We owe so much to these selfless folks who probably don’t get much thankfulness and gratitude very often. Where would we be without them? How can we ever repay them?
Ringing a church bell was just one simple act. But it resounded and resonated and meant so very much.
“For bells are the voice of the church; they have tones that touch and search the hearts of young and old. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow