If your bell is hidden, your witness might be, too

If your bell is hidden, your witness might be, too

Story and Verse: This is the fourth in a Thanksgiving-to-Epiphany series.

THE BELL WAS HIDDEN in the belfry of a church. Few people knew it was there because workers had sealed it away many years ago after the bell had fallen in disrepair.
The Rev. Harry Howe and his mission team discovered the bell when they were working on a Baptist church in Marion, Virginia. “We fixed the mount and restrung the bell,” he said. Excited about the rediscovered treasure, the youth in the church took turns ringing it.
A woman who lived near the church heard the bell chiming that day. “She was in her 80s,” Howe said. “She told her caregiver that was her church bell ringing. She hadn’t heard it ring since she was a girl.”
As a clergy member and physician’s assistant who serves in the community, Howe believes many churches and Christians are like that silent bell. “God is always present, but many don’t feel his presence because we don’t make it known. They see us, but do they really see Christ within us?”
On Dec. 15, Bishop Dindy Taylor asked Holston Conference churches to ring their bells on Christmas Day at noon “to remind our neighbors God is still alive.” Through his poem about the dormant bell, Howe expresses hope that Christians will also share the love of Jesus Christ "in word and action" throughout the year.

Ring the Dormant Bell

 Folks, there is a dormant bell
    That’s within the belfry set
And throughout the passing years
    All the people there forget
The bell is always present
    Even though its clapper’s still
The folks there have no knowledge
    Of the sounding of its peal
It sadly is the image
    Of the presence of God here
That often goes unnoticed
    By so many far and near
For just like this dormant bell
    That is silent in the walls
We keep God’s presence hidden
    For the folks in our church halls
But it’s only when this bell
    Finally rings out loud and strong
That, folks will hear it ring
    Know its blessings they belong
Like the humble bell that rings
    So, all hear its echo sound
As we reach out in Christ
    Then God’s presence may be found
As its ringing then is heard
    There’s a beauty in its tone
For it’s like the love of God
    When we serve to make Him known
Tis the mission of the church
    Let us heed this lesson well
For, to make God’s presence known
    May we ring the dormant bell

-- Harry Howe

Coming next week: The Least


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.