Jerusalem is a Noisy City

The cacophony of voices competing for the attention of residents and visitors includes the Muslim call to prayer which can be heard five times a day, the robust discussions of Torah and Talmud occurring at dozens of Jewish yeshivas, the worship music coming from the many Christian churches in the city. Then there are the sounds of political discussions coming from city hall, just a few blocks away from the Jaffa Gate, the Knesset building near the Valley of the Cross on the other side of town, and the roar of the crowds as they cheer for their teams playing at Teddy Kolleck Stadium and the Pias Basketball arena. Finally, there are the ordinary sounds of trade and commerce which are common to any large city.

It can be easy to be distracted by so much noise, whether the noise of everyday life or politics, and lose focus on the reason CMJ Israel came to Jerusalem 200 years ago. A privilege of being in Jerusalem is that it gives us the ability to understand the  Gospel in its Jewish context. We walk along a path that was set forth by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:11-15 where, speaking of his own people, the Jews, he said; “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfilment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

The Bell Tower at Christ Church
The Bell Tower at Christ Church 

Among the founding generation at Christ Church was John Nicolayson, who gave one of the first sermons in the newly completed chapel on 30 October 1842. During that sermon, he declared that the purpose of Christ Church would be to act “like a tree, giving shelter to the returning Israelites and offering its fruit to the nations.” This prophetic vision has indeed been at least partially fulfilled, as this seed, planted almost 200 years ago, has since blossomed and in turn, sent out seeds that have led to a great revival of Protestant Christianity in the Holy Land. But that was just the beginning.

At Christ Church, we remember the fruits of yesterday’s labor but we’re always thinking about what we can do for the Lord today, tomorrow, and the next day. That is why we’re launching an effort to restore the bells in our church’s tower. These bells have rung out on special occasions such as Easter and other traditional Christian holidays. They also rang forth for historical events such as the day the allies declared victory in WWII as well as for the sacred union of ordinary people in marriage at Christ Church.

The Bell Tower at Christ Church
The Tubular Bells in the Tower

Amidst all of the joyous tumult of noise and clamor in Jerusalem, the bells of Christ Church offer a sweet, unobtrusive yet insistent reminder of our presence and the Gospel message that we are not, have never been, and never will be ashamed to proclaim, just as our Lord Jesus Christ did. The eight tubular bells were installed in our chapel’s tower in 1899 and were first rung for Easter. They continued to chime for many years, but in recent years they have been less active because the machinery which makes them chime is in need of repair and refurbishment. Our strategic location near the Jaffa Gate and on the road which provides one of the shortest and easiest access points to the Western Wall plaza means thousands of tourists, workers, residents, and others pass by our front door every day of the year. By playing the bells as they pass, we provide a sweet sound to cheer the hearts of all, and to draw those who are curious to come and see what’s going on in this small but beautiful campus directly across from the Tower of David museum.

These historic bells are in need of repairs, and that is why we are asking for help in refurbishing them. The cost of making the repairs needed for us to once again allow the bells to ring melodiously in our little corner of Jerusalem is around $50,000. We are asking our supporters to give towards this cause so that we can continue to do the work God has called us to do in this very special place. In a noisy city like Jerusalem, the Gospel of the Lord God Jesus Christ needs to have a voice, and although the bells of Christ Church are beautiful and so, we know that sometimes the best way to be heard in a noisy city is to whisper.

If you would like to give to the bell project, please click here


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