Easter Lilies and Ringing Bells

On Easter Sunday I’ll be in our historic village church, singing my head off.

First built in 1869, it’s Anglican (aka Episcopalian or Church of England).

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

For our church community, Easter Sunday is the happiest day of the year, happier even than Christmas.  It’s the day of the miracle of the resurrection.

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

When our priest  Claire (a Guyanese-Canadian woman who joined us a few years ago)  says “Christ is risen”,  I ring my hand-bell till my husband begs me to stop.

When the time comes to sing hymns (singing is a rare thing in this contemplative Anglican service), I do so more loudly, more off-key than anyone else.

Image via wikipedia

My husband is probably embarrassed.

But I’m too busy singing to notice.

I’ll be ringing and singing along with about 35 or 36 other souls at the 8:30 a.m. service.

“ONLY 36 other people?” you ask.

Actually, 36 is huge – for the 8:30 service.

Photo by Gundy Schloen

Photo by Gundy Schloen

When I first entered the tiny board and batten building for the 8:30 service, only 9 people attended, and sometimes — if the weather was bad  — only five.  Then the village grew and the little building was suddenly bursting at the seams — well, at the 10:30 service, that is.

The whole parish – 8:30 and 10:30 folks  together — raised funds to build a bigger church.  We love our big new church and are grateful that it accommodates newcomers and old-timers alike.

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Stephen Clarke

Photo by Stephen Clarke

But we 8:30 folk  – there are more of us now — still worship in “the chapel”.

**

If you’ve read my book, “A Good Home”, you know that I arrived at this church full of doubt.  In fact, one of the things that drew me? The name. It was named for the Bible’s great doubter: Thomas.  He could have been the patron saint of journalists like me — who are taught to doubt everything and everyone till proven otherwise.

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

But I found peace.   In the pastel-coloured stained-glass windows, the timeworn wooden pews, the threadbare carpet,  the small carved wooden altar, the communion rail overlooked by a simple cross.

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Peace. 

In the warm welcome from everyone I met.

In the words of the priest and the small, burgundy cloth-covered Book of Common Prayer, beautifully written.

Even in the glorious confusion called the blessing of the animals. On that day, dogs, cats, gerbils, horses — and strange things under blankets — come to church. Rev. Claire’s voice gets drowned out by yapping, yelping, barking — and  strange sounds from things under blankets.

Photo by Hamlin Grange

Photo by Jack Herder

“I’ll hold anything but snakes!” says our priest loudly, prompting a fresh round of laughter.

Even then.

The people here have supported me in bad times.. They’ve helped lessen my doubt and build my faith – in God and in myself.  They’ve made our family soup, given us flowers, helped me up the stairs. When my husband and I miss a service or two, someone always calls. I teasingly reply: “Is this the church police?”

No-one seems upset when I question parts of the Old Testament that I don’t understand or believe in. Not even when I ask, just before the service, “Should I take a walk when it comes to this horrible part of the reading, or just plug my ears?”

Smart woman that she is, Claire uses the opportunity to share more insights with all of us.

But at Easter and Christmas, my questions take a hike.

I’m too busy rejoicing.

And ringing, or singing ,or both.

Photo by Gordon Wick

Photo by Gordon Wick

Dedicated to the people of St. Thomas’.

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66 Comments

Filed under A Good Home, Anglican Church, Bell Ringing, Blessing of the Animals, Easter, Easter sunday, Episcopalian Church, Passover

66 responses to “Easter Lilies and Ringing Bells

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog and for the invitation to come read your post for today. I loved it! What a lovely little church you attend, and Rev. Claire sounds like a jewel. I loved your story about your husband having to hold your hand to stop the bell and about your loud, off key singing. I love to sing and my voice is loud and off key too. My faith journey has been a rocky one as well and I’ve definitely connected with the doubter, Thomas, on many occasions over the years. I’m so looking forward to getting to know you, Cynthia. May your Easter be a truly blessed one. Hugs, Natalie 🙂

    • Thank you, Natalie. Your blog is lovely and inspiring, and I thought you’d enjoy this one.
      Thanks for being a member of “the off-key singers club”. We need more people to confess to this endearing flaw.

      May your Easter be a blessed one too!

      • Chuckling again, Cynthia. Indeed we do need more folks to confess this endearing flaw. As long as we are making a joyful noise unto the Lord no one should care, right?! Have a great evening. Hugs, N

  2. Thanks, what a lovely uplifting Easter post. Beautiful church too. Happy Easter, we’ll be singing too in some other continent! Agape…

  3. Easter is indeed the happiest Christian celebration. Good for you for showing your happiness. Have fun. Your Church sounds wonderful. It’s very thoughtful of your Church to have Blue Christmas services. Happy Easter.

  4. I make the most god awful racket singing the hymns at church. I reckon that I can get away with it because if I sit a little bit away from everyone else it’s unchristian to tell me to shut up. Phnark. I’m an Anglican too. I also doubt but I also find… I dunno… Solace?

    • Now why does this not surprise me? I’d have bet that you were also a member of “The Seriously Off-key Singers Club”. Why is it that the bad singers sing the loudest? (Phnark.) Maybe we think volume will make up for excellence?
      And solace. It’s such a good word.

  5. Love the looks of this little church! It sounds like you find real community and spirit there. I hope you have a very blessed Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

  6. An interesting and lovely post of your community. Love your country church. Thank you and appreciate your visit to my blog. Wishing you a blessed and joyous Easter. Kind regards, Iris

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  8. Bishop Linda

    Cynthia, Thank you for your wonderful description of life in the Church – and the joy of Easter! You tell the story of faith with such enthusiastic joy and honesty…..Blessings!

    • Thank you, Bishop Linda. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I always like hearing what you think of the stuff I write.

      And I hope you won’t read the story about me wishing a ghost or fairy or God would put the pastor to sleep right there in the pulpit (A Child at Easter”).- I wouldn’t want your good opinion of me to change!! (smile)
      I know bishops are busy during Easter — I hope it was great.

      Blessings.

  9. I would love to visit your church, any time. Here is my little story about bells and an Anglican church in Christchurch. http://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/3252/

  10. Wow! What a lovely, moving and beautifully-written story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  11. Happy Easter back atcha! PS, you guys are very brave to bring the animals right into church! They bless our dogs, cats, ducks, etc. on the lawn outside–easier clean-up, I guess. 😉

  12. Maybe one day we’ll have to consider that – I know the horses are blessed outside, but inside the church, it’s a whole Noah’s Ark going on – except the animals are usually brought in one by one.

  13. This is a lovely post – so full of joy! Brilliant! 🙂

  14. Beautiful post Cynthia. I haven’t been to church in a very long time…doubter – I suppose that might do. I remember the joy and peace I felt whenever I went to my old church so many years ago and singing… I loved it!
    Thank you for reminding me of so many things… perhaps one day… who knows.
    Easter Blessings , Susan 💖

  15. Thanks for sharing your joy and faith Cynthia. Singing and rejoicing are good. It’s the believing that’s hard for me. I can’t seem to accept what I consider man’s patched-together-stories woven into beliefs and religions. I see value and wisdom in most, but not absolute truth. Pointers and hints at the path and truth, but not The Truth. I’d weave together some of each (Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Muslim, Native wisdom and more), but mostly I believe in love and kindness.
    blessings my friend.

    • Excellent approach, my friend. There are some traditions I’d like to ‘steal’ right now. But then again, that’s what Christianity did – stole some practices from other faiths….

      • Thanks Cynthia. I’m glad my comments didn’t offend. May we rise together.

      • Are you kidding? I’m thankful you and my many other blogger friends accept that this is who I am. I go to church, and I love it there! And I love the vein of goodness and compassion that is evident in the people who follow my blog regularly. That, our creativity and passion for something may be what we all have in common.

        Be well.

      • Thank you Cynthia. Actually, I share much of your path and a love for spirit that joins in love May we join in love, kindness and spirit. blessings my friend

  16. Thanks for sharing about your church, Cynthia, As you know I’m reading your book now and learned about the 8:30s and 10:30s fundraising efforts to build a bigger church. What a joy to be part of such a community. 🙂

  17. I love the look of your church! And the tradition of blessing the animals–I’ve read of that but your photo really brings it home!

  18. I have passed that old church many times, and now, through your photos, have been invited inside. It’s really lovely. I like that expression, singing your head off. Joy bypasses the brain, think.

  19. Joy bypasses the brain, I think. (That’s what I meant to say, and perhaps it’s not a bad thing to say again!)

  20. Dear Cynthia, what a beautiful post! I think it is a good thing that there are different religions and traditions to express one feelings for God and Creations…to me that is the same as expressing Love for the world and trying to be a good person. It is such an old message but Love and Peace is the true answer! Happy Easter, enjo your own traditon in your beautiful church and we both believe in Love and Peace and New Life and New beginnings. xo Johanna

    • Well said, my dear Johanna! Love and Peace to you and your family. My readers and best friends include Bhuddists, Jewish, Muslims and many believe in being one’s best, but do not believe in God as I do. I feel blessed that we live in a time and place where we can all show our love for each other and our differences, and I never preach or get into religious arguments – what’s the point?

  21. Lovely church and good for you for rejoicing unselfconsciously in the singing and bell ringing!

  22. Beautiful church, Cynthia… Building, community and spirit!! Easter is the most joyous day of the year for me. I’m a lapsed Catholic, tried to reconnect many times but that doesn’t really matter. I am with you on ringing that bell, with all my heart

  23. Have a wonderful Easter, Cynthia. And sing and ring to your heart’s content! 🙂

  24. Happy Easter! Singing and Ringing.

  25. I hope you had a peaceful Easter. (Once the bell stopped ringing)

  26. What a glorious church!
    Are we not all Thomas some days of our lives?
    I sang this morning and found a joy that balanced the midnight watch I kept in the church on the dawn of Good Friday. From sorrow to joy, may be it be for us all.

    • Yes, indeed. May it be for us all. I am so glad you found that feeling of joy today.

      You kept the midnight watch! We always loved going to the silent vigil “in the garden” on Thursday night, in the small chapel, in the darkness except for a few candles. Very meaningful.

  27. Happy Easter dear Cynthia! I have at last time to catch up with reading posts and I love this one of yours. I read it last year and never commented but the memory of it stayed with me all year. I was at church this morning wondering if you would be ringing and singing at your lovely little chapel again this year. I love St Thomas – he is ‘us’ isn’t he? So peeved that he was elsewhere when the others saw Jesus and then they went on and on to him about it. ‘Well, I’m not going to believe any of that until I see it with my own eyes!’. But as soon as it was proved to him that Jesus was indeed risen, he BELIEVED! Never wavered again. Wonderful! The photos of your church and chapel are lovely. Such a vibrant looking community church. I have read all the comments again. I notice MT McGuire talks about the TV series ‘Rev’. I thinks it is fantastic too. I must go to bed as it’s 1.15 Monday morning now!

    • So well said, Clare! I also imagine that this has been a busy week and weekend for you. thanks for loving St. Thomas. He is ‘us’. Get some rest!

    • So well said, Clare! I also imagine that this has been a busy week and weekend for you. thanks for loving St. Thomas. He is ‘us’.

      I also wonder: were there more people in yout church today? I’m not sure if it’s because of the violence against Christians around the world lately, but everyone I’ve talked to in Canada and the US said the turnout today was incredible, even for Easter.

      • My mother told me her church was full. Our turn out for the 9.30 am service wasn’t too bad – about 20 people + two children. I haven’t spoken to anyone who went to the 11.00 am main service so not too sure about that one but it was probably well attended. This is good news about higher attendance at church. mum and I have been discussing this lately and we think that maybe there are slightly more people coming to church. We have also noticed that more well-known people and/or ‘celebrities’ are talking about their faith as well.

  28. So lovely with deep history – hope you had a wonderful Easter singing and enjoying each others company on the most blessed holiday.

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