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The Message From The Cover of
The May 2005 Tower


From The Pastor

      Church Bells -- It's Monday, the day of the 109th running of the Boston Marathon. The elite runners of the world and lots of ordinary folks came down that final mile to a finish line in front of the Old South Congregational Church on Boylston Street, built 21 years before the race began. For this race the old stone bell tower was hung with bright blue and yellow banners, and as each winner came over the finish line the church bell rang. One TV commentator said, "It's the first time in 108 years that the church bell has rung for this race. We're glad they've joined us!"

      The Old South's tower has stood witness to the tide of human events in Boston since 1875 - World Wars and the Great Depression, Vietnam protests and AIDS marches, Easter parades and the circus coming to town.

      Our tower, too, holds a bell. For over two hundred years it has tolled the life of this town, announcing weddings and funerals, war and peace, ordinary and extraordinary times to gather for prayer, for sharing wisdom, for facing danger, for finding in one another's company the presence of God.

      Church steeples are treasures we hold dear: their steadiness calls our attention to the invisible things that are eternal, as St. Paul said, and away from the visible concerns that often seem so overwhelming: wars, victories, defeats, good and bad times, our loves and losses. But the bells in the steeples ring out our cares for all the moments that define our lives.

      You can have a steeple without a bell (such an emptiness, though!), but you cannot have a bell without a steeple! Our steeple is about to undergo a spectacular transformation, in order that our bell may go on ringing down the years: the old one will come down (on May 16) and the one that has been built specially to replace it, will go up soon after that.

      It's the same and not the same. Some grieve deeply the loss of the old structure, made of pine and old woods now worn through from weathering so many winters. Some delight in the new structure, made of cypress and cedar, strong enough to stand for centuries to come. What is the same is that the steeple will continue to point, in a trinity of stages, toward the fullness of time, and the bell within the steeple will continue to voice our profound experiences of time, as we run this race, our eyes set not upon a perishable wreath, but an imperishable one. (Paul again!)

      Two hundred and six years ago the people of this town watched the hoisting of our venerable steeple. I hope you will come to town to watch the hoisting of this steeple, and that you will praise the labors of those who have worked so hard here to make this happen: Tower Bob Cox (leaning a little at this point!); Judy Schultz and Carl Peterson; Mary Crane and Kathy James; Chris Scales and Jim Griswold; builder Jay Southgate.

      Long years from now, tower and bell will still proclaim their unending message: May you mount up with wings like eagles. May you run and not grow weary. May you walk and not faint. (Isaiah 30:41)

Rev. Nancy