Wednesday, August 28, 2013

For Whom the Bell Tolls?... Wait....Did I just hear bells?

As I do many mornings, I entered the Church and prepared for our morning prayers (Orthros). According to tradition, I ring the Church bells 15 minutes before services and again just as I am beginning. I do this EVERY service, but this morning someone took notice.

About half-way through the Orthros (30 minutes in total) I turned around and there was a young man in the Church prayer and doing his cross PROPERLY. I must admit I was taken aback since most mornings I am by myself unless Orthros will be followed by Divine Liturgy that particular day. So today it was a pleasant surprise because not only was there a young man praying in Church, it was a young man whom I had not yet met. Was he new to Florence? I have been the priest in this small southern town for just over five years, so I have met just about everyone who is Orthodox, and many of our non-Orthodox neighbors.

At the end of Orthros, I had the blessing to speak with this young man. “Have we met?”

“No,” he said. “I was in my home and heard the bells.”

He and his wife had just moved to Florence two weeks ago. They live across the street in an apartment complex and knew the Church was here, but hadn’t been to Church yet. In fact they did come to the Church on August 15th, but since we had an evening Liturgy the night before, they didn’t find anyone at the Church.  This morning, while enjoying a cup of coffee, he heard the Church bells and took notice. He took advantage of the hearing the bells and came to Church. I suppose the bells tolled for him today.

It isn’t an accident that Churches ring bells before, during and after services. Our Church temples exist as physical reminders of God’s presence in a neighborhood, and the ringing of bells often strikes to the core of our heart calling us back to Christ. Of course, it is up to us to act on the call.

The next time you hear Church bells ringing, go find them and offer a prayer of thanks that God has allowed you to be reminded of His presence.

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