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Bells

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Jun 15 in Musings
“No man is an island...” starts a famous paragraph in John Donne’s Meditations from 1623. Donne is wrestling with the amazing way in which the lives of human beings are interconnected. He even marvels over how the death of one person can cause others to think long and hard about how they are living. The sound of a church bell, in Donne’s day a likely indicator that someone had died, was not only an announcement of news, but a challenge for the hearer to reflect on how their life, death and eternity. “And therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."
I thought of this last week because it was noontime, and when I opened the door of my office I heard the lovely sound- gong, gong! Church bells. OUR church bells. Though now electronically produced, the 104-foot tower at Hollywood Presbyterian rings the sound of bells over our local community each day at noon, and on Sunday just before worship services. The bells were out of commission for a couple years with technological problems, but recently were restored to service (thank you, Ross Benson!).

Imagine. You are walking on Hollywood Boulevard on a hot summer day, heading for a bite to eat, and high in the air you hear the sound- gong, gong! Maybe you live in the neighborhood or up in the hills and on Sunday morning you notice the bells gently call people to worship. The bells ring out over the 101freeway, the Walk of Fame sidewalk, our friends who live on the street, the preschool, the billboards, the impatient drivers, the Scientologists and the construction projects. They have been ringing in this location for some 90 years. Through wars, economic booms and busts, the rise of the entertainment industry and the rapid growth of Los Angeles...the bells have been ringing.

What do LA people think about if they hear that sound?  We live in a very different environment from Donne’s 17th century village parish, where much of life centered on the church. In fact, life today is very different in Hollywood than it was in 1923 when the tower was constructed. Now it is a very intentional choice, and fairly counter-cultural to walk into a church for worship. But when I heard the final gong! drift away last week, I was encouraged. In a world changing too rapidly to even describe, here is one thing that remains solid. The bells remind people that a community gathers on the corner of Carlos and Gower to worship the God revealed in Jesus Christ. The bells ring out the message that God is present among his people in Hollywood. That wafting sound blankets the whole area every day, every week, like the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit, unseen and yet powerful.
 
                See you soon,
                            Pastor Dan      

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