This key is a Master Key. Big, weighty it locks and unlocks every door with a lock in church.
When our present Vicar was inducted the Bishop presented him with his own copy at the main church door, near that door there is a bell pull connected to the tenor bell, way, way, up there in the tower, taking hold of the Sally, our new Vicar gave it a pull and let the whole village know he had arrived.
We have a peal of 8 bells, and there are stories to tell, bell ringers are special people from all walks of life, and all ages. Our ringers don’t all hail from Rowley, some don’t attend church, but all love the fellowship of being part of a team that can make bells sing.
What do bells sing about?
Well they sing a song of joy for bride and groom and invite the hearers to stop and say a prayer fur them. Shrouded, they sing a lament for those passed on to pastures new, soon they will be singing the Christmas Message, and then ringing in the New Year.
However the master key opens all the doors from the foot of the steep staircase, right up into the Ringing chamber at the top of the tower. Without this key there is no right of way, no singing bells.
Unless the parish’s chosen representatives say yes, this man of woman is the right shepherd for this place, the Bishop will not place the key in the hand of that man or woman, they are not entrusted with the care of the sheep, or to teach them the scriptures.
However the key that I am musing about, is a greater key than this one. A key not much talked about these days, but whoever knows Jesus has their own personal copy of it. It is the key to the Fathers Heart and it is turned with a movement called prayer.
A novice bell ringer needs to learn how to ‘ring the changes’ – how to work with others – otherwise there will be a few ” clangers”
Prayer is like that.
Through prayer we learn from our Teacher how to be part of very large family, that working together we can Ring out The Good News, welcomed by all. Otherwise, untutored we could well be making an ‘unholy’ din.
“O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel,
Who opens and no one can shut,
Who shuts and no one can open.
Come and bring the prisoners from the prison house,
Those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death”
(Advent refrain on the Magnificat for the 20th December/Celebrating Common Prayer)
Oh yes, Come Lord Jesus! Open the door for us to safety, peace and love.