“There’s a village hidden deep in the valley
Among the pine trees half forlorn
And there on a sunny morning
Little Jimmy Brown was born (Bung, bung, bung, bung)”
So begins one of the great songs of all time. It’s entitled Little Jimmy Brown or sometimes “The Three Bells”. It’s a beautiful song and wonderfully reflects the meaning and the place of the church for me.
In the song a baby boy named Jimmy Brown is born in a little village hidden deep in a mountain valley. The congregation in the little village rang its bells to celebrate the birth of the baby. The little congregation sang in joy for the new baby, Jimmy Brown. The congregation gathered and prayed for guidance from above for God to lead them not into temptation and to bless the hour of meditation.
Some twenty years later in the same little village in the same little congregation Jimmy Brown was getting married and once again the bells of the church rang. They rang in joy for Jimmy Brown and his wife. It was a great day in his life. Again, the little congregation prayed for guidance from above and for their celebration to be blessed and for Jimmy and his wife’s lives to be filled with love.
“Many years later on a rainy morning, dark and gray, Jimmy’s soul winged its way to heaven, Jimmy Brown had passed away”. This time just a lonely bell was ringing as the little congregation gathered to sing farewell to Jimmy Brown and once again they prayed for guidance from above and to be led not into temptation and that Jimmy Brown’s soul would find salvation of God’s great eternal love.
This about sums up as good and pure an image of what the church means to me as anything. The church is there with us through all the stages of life, from birth through marriage and finally our passing and every great moment in between. The church brings a sense of God’s presence into our lives at every important turn in life and prays for us. The church is where we can truly experience the true meaning of community and where we gather to not receive prayers and support but to provide it for others as well.
I believe in the church. Is it always perfect? Of course not. But if we remain committed to our calling and faithful to the Lord and to each other we will be there for each other. It’s not easy being the church today. Many forces conspire against the church but when we all work together and keep it simple the church is there with us to give meaning and to celebrate every turn of our lives. I love the church. I hope you do. May we all help the church be as the little church in the valley, there for all throughout our lives. Thank you for being partners in making it so.