My office is in the oldest church building in Victoria. It is a beautiful heritiage building complete with a pipe organ, stained glass, steeple and ... a bell. The bell is orginal to the building. That said, the neighbourhood around the church has changed considerably since the bell was installed. What used to be open spaces, farming and later bus parking lots has become densely populated. In the two years since I've been here 3 condo developments have been completed with 50 M of the building and that doesn't include the 2 more that are only a few years older.
When I arrived this morning, the bell was ringing as a reminder and invitation to those in the area that the mid week morning prayer and communion service was about to begin. The bell is effective, but it is not necessarily melodious. It's sound is not nearly is melodious as the Carillon around the corner or the ferry horn that sounds on entrance to the harbour.
The sound of the bell bounces of the newly constructed building to create something of an 'alarm clock' resonnance. As I gathered my things from the car, I couldn't help but wonder what the people in new condos thought of the ringing bell. As that thought went through my mind, something occurred to me that I think is profound. The first is obvious. This church has been standing for 135 years. When it was built, there wasn't much else here. The Empress, the Crystal Garden and the Legislature didn't even exist on paper when it was established. Emily Carr and her family attended here as did many other Victoria pioneers. In my mind, the church and it's ringing bell have the benefit of being here first and so the bell should continue to ring as often as necessary.
My second thought is that this church serves as a metaphor for our changing world. So much has changed in our world and yet the message and values of the church must remain constant and the ringing of the bell, melodious or otherwise must continue to be heard. The ringing must be an invitation to the discovery or re-discovery of spiritual foundations that never falter or fail, to hope that is eternal and to the promises of love, joy and grace.