17 June 2022
Thought for the week
The Thursday traditionally falling after Trinity Sunday (which this year was Sunday 12th June) sees the observance of the feast of Corpus Christi or the Body of Christ. The feast is in honour of the Holy Eucharist or Communion and commemorates its institution. According to some accounts its origins date from the earlier part of the thirteenth century following the visions of a nun at Liège. It was officially established by Pope Urban IV in 1264 and gradually its observance became universal throughout Western Christendom. The celebration, as the title would suggest, is associated with the commemoration of Jesus’s Last Supper with his disciples before his crucifixion. In the Church of England it is usually referred to as a Day of Thanksgiving for the institution of the Holy Communion. The Gospel reading for the day (this year it is the 16th June) is often taken from John 6.51-58:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh …
Another passage often read also on this Day of Thanksgiving is taken from the Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 11.23-26 where he describes that which he received from the Lord and is now handing onto the young Church in Corinth … how the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took a loaf of bread and a cup of wine and instructed his disciples to eat and drink the same in remembrance of him. In v26 Paul teaches the Corinthian Church that they now should do likewise: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (v26).
The receiving of the bread and the wine in Holy Communion is a sacramental act for the Christian – a sacrament being an outward and visible sign (here the bread and the wine) of an inward and spiritual grace. And although we cannot view our ringing of church bells exactly as a sacramental act, it has occurred to me more than once that there may be parallels to be considered. For the sound of the bells pealing out into the neighbouring community is distinctly an outward and visible sign, especially prior to an act of worship. However, they may not only signify loudly a summoning to join in with that worship. For in the public soundscape the bells ringing out may also connect with or help recall within at another and deeper level, for the few or many, the spiritual presence of God’s free flowing grace and love available to all.
Guild of Clerical Ringers
24 June 2022
Thought for the week
The need to dominate and to control can be extremely harmful. This competitive spirit is causing such devastation and unhappiness in the Ukraine in these days. Yet we see that same desire to be in control in some many circumstances. I know that competition can be a spur for achievement but very often it can be the cause of dispute and fractured relationships.
There is, I think, a better way to achieve excellence and good results. The key for me is to reflect on God as our creator who has made us in his own image. My understanding is that God as creator had done so out of the sheer desire and joy to make something wonderful. We, who I believe are made in his image, also have that joy in creativity. It gives me real satisfaction to do something well and to see people making good. God himself is not competitive because by his very nature there is no competition for God! We share that creativity which surely is the best way forward for us as well. The desire to create something of worth is a much better motivator than the wish to donate and control.
We all have a creative spark within us which can be used to make this world a richer, safer and better place for humanity. Some have creativity in bucketloads. They are the great composers, artists of every kind, poets, writers and so on. I even think sports people are creative because what is more exhilarating than seeing grace and excellence in sporting performance. However most of us have limited abilities and can never achieve the heights of the most talented. I wonder whether that is an advantage sometimes, because we do not have such a great responsibility in sharing what we have! In all this we must harness of our own creative spark in whatever outlet we have to create something that is beautiful and good that brings joy to others and ourselves. Being creative I suggest brings more joy and harmony to our world than being competitive and it rarely causes dispute!
1 July 2022
Thought for the week
In George Massey’s monumental work ‘The Church Bells of Somerset’, there is an interesting little historical anecdote about Limington (6 bells, tenor 11-1-27 in G).
The year is 1610. A few days before Whitsun, the local ringers rang a peal from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. They then, presumably, repaired to the local, the innkeeper being one of the ringers, and it is supposed that any licensing laws meant little in the village.
They returned to the tower at about 1 pm, when they began another peal. A church official, John Pavvett, took exception to this, complaining that the standard of ringing was poor and that they should have been satisfied with having jangled the bells all morning. Walter Hopkins, the leading ringer, was not best pleased and said, “I know there is nobody that will find fault with the ringing except the Parson, and he has nothing to do in the church but to say the service and say Amen.” Pavvett grabbed the third rope from the ringer, bringing the peal to an abrupt end.
To cut a long story short, it came to blows, the Rector was called, the ringer after some strong language continued to ring, and the Rector mounted his horse and rode to the magistrate, Sir Edward Hexte, to lodge a complaint. The depositions in the Somerset Record Office do not record the end of the matter, but one hopes that peace and harmony was eventually restored to the little village of Limington in very rural Somerset.
Well, there is a fascinating glimpse into village ringing in the early 17th century. It all happened a long time ago and yet, I suggest, it has something to say to us today. Our relationship, as ringers, with the listening public and the clergy of the of the churches in which we ring is of supreme importance. It has to be one of sensitivity and mutual cooperation – all part of what it means to ‘love our neighbour’. Amen.
is a member of the Guild of Clerical Ringers.
8 July 2022
Thought for the week
I was intrigued by a recent back page picture in the Ringing World of a bell that had been cast from waste aluminium. It was part of an art sculpure called ‘Redivivus’, from the Latin meaning ‘come back to life’ or ‘reborn’, with a focus on the use we can make of recycled materials, something which concerns us all with regard to caring for our environment.
Aluminium is not normally used in casting a bell. Although steel has been known to be used in the process in the past, bell metal is normally bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. Bell metal has also been recycled in the past. Bells have been removed from church towers and melted down to make armaments in times of war. The reverse has also happened. Bronze cannon used in battle have been melted down and recast into church bells.
The need to reduce waste by means of recycling is something that has become an important focus in creating a more sustainable future for the planet. It is something we all need to be involved with if we want to contribute in a positive way to ensure a better life for future generations to come. The challenge of making new things out of old confronts our throw-away culture, encouraging us to reduce waste by recycling as much as possible.
The Bible tells us that there is a sense in which we all need to be spiritually recycled. By nature we are, “dead in transgressions and sins”. (Ephesians 2:1) We need to experience ‘Redivivus’ if we would be reborn and come back to life. Jesus said that we must be, “born again”, or “born of the Spirit”, if we would enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5) And only God can give us, “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) Paul tells us that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus said, “I am making everything new.” (Revelation 21:5) New life is ours in Christ. Here is the ultimate hope for the future of our world – God’s promise of a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Revd George G Cringles
A retired minister of the Church of Scotland and a member of the Guild of Clerical Ringers
15th July 2022
Keep in Step
As I am 69 I can remember wind-up gramophones. At Primary School we had country dancing to music played on one. One teacher would always say “The music won’t wait for you, keep in time and keep in step with it.”
In one tower I rang at as a teenager there was a lady who would always argue with the conductor. In those days we were taught to follow their instructions. (Even now I think it is a good maxim.) Doreen would grab hold and we would start ringing, she would go wrong, and the conductor would try to put her right. “Dodge with me now, Doreen.” “No!” “Dodge now, Doreen.” “No!” It would end up firing out with the exasperated conductor saying “Stand!”
In Galatians chapter 5 verse 25 we read “Keep in step with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit leads us to Christ when we become Christians, and then leads us into all truth. (See John 16 verse 13.) In a sense He is like the Divine Heavenly Conductor, and when we follow Him and keep in step with Him, all goes well. When we follow our own way, then we get crashes and firing until we get back on track.
The earthly conductors may not always get it right, but I still try to do what I am asked. My Heavenly Conductor, the Holy Spirit, is never wrong. I try to follow Him every day. Sometimes I don’t, but then God is forgiving and puts me back on track on the blue line (“the straight and narrow way”).
Revd Michael Haighton
Guild of Clerical Ringers