Our Christ Church Choir will offer music for Advent in a Choral Order for Evening at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 17. Hope and expectation, faith and watchful waiting, underscore the Advent season and the anthems our Choir will offer. As daylight wanes, we will also sing a couple Advent hymns, hear brief readings, and light candles against the advancing darkness. I find that the music and prayers of Advent re-awaken my confidence in God's desire to bring new light and life into this broken world. So, I am very grateful to our Choir for offering this brief service.
As our Advent journey continues, the Church's readings are focused everywhere but Jerusalem. John the Baptist is at the River Jordan, and Gabriel will greet Mary in Nazareth before she and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem. However, the world's attention focuses again on the status of Jerusalem. What is it about Jerusalem that makes it so important to all the children of Abraham -- the three Peoples of The Book?
National Geographic attempted to answer this question several years ago in a large screen, 3-D documentary simply called, "Jerusalem.".Jerusalem explains the importance of the city through the eyes of three young women from the three branches of Abraham's children -- Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Because of the format, it could only be shown on IMAX screens, like the one in Boston's Museum of Science and the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History (where I saw it). Subsequently, National Geographic has made it available for smaller 2-D screens, and that's the version we will be watching and discussing in the Rectory Forum beginning this Sunday, December 17.
On Thursday morning, December 14th, I tolled the bell at 9:35 a.m. for the 28 children and adults who died in gun violence in Sandy Hook five years earlier.
On Friday, I climbed our Tower with a bell specialist and an architect. It was cold and breezy in the bell chamber, but definitely worth the effort. The bell specialist, Joe Duffy III, comes from a family who have known and looked after the bell for three generations. We were put in touch with him by architect, Laura Boyer, who has been helping us consider if and how we might apply for a CT Historic Preservation Grant. As it happens, Joe's company, "Church Specialties, Inc." located in Vermont, is in Parish Administrator Pat Wakefield's Rolodex, but the connection between their specialty and our bell hadn't been made. Joe's father, Joe Duffy, Jr., had serviced the bell, and remembers it as a fine instrument.
We currently toll the bell before services, during the Eucharistic prayer, and on solemn occasions, like Thursday's. But we can't ring the bell. To toll the bell, the bell stays in place and is struck by a clapper coming up from the chamber floor; the bell sounds just once for each pull on the clapper rope. To ring the bell, the bell rocks side to side in its cradle, and is struck by a clapper that hangs inside the bell; when rung, the clapper strikes both sides of the bell giving a ding-dong sound. Joe rang the bell manually for Laura and me; the sound is beautiful and full of overtones.
The bell was cast of bronze, in Troy, New York by Jones & Hitchcock in 1855, and weights 2100 pounds! Joe said the bell, its harness and cradle are all in excellent condition; he said the wheel used to rock the bell was the work of another company, but is entirely service-able. Iron and steel parts of the system could use some rust removal and prevention. On my previous trips to the bell chamber, it appeared that the bell touched one side of the cradle; in yesterday's cold. there was clearance. Joe identified another issue as preventing the bell from rocking easily in its cradle: The bell-harness rests in notched pivots at the top of the cradle; and the lubrication of previous generations has seized up and created a solid goop. Joe reported that standard practice today would be to lift the bell out of the cradle, clean out the pivot, and install ball-bearings on both ends of the harness.
The good news is that Joe was sure it could be done over the course of three or four days within the bell chamber; the process would not require removing the bell from the chamber or using a heavy-duty crane from the ground. Nonetheless, how to manage that lift, from above or below, would involve a structural engineer and professional riggers, and there is still the issue of how to get the Tower shutters repaired and re-painted. An ad-hoc committee of Junior Warden Sue Shackford, Pat Daunic, Bobbi Stuart and YFNR, will continue the conversation with Laura Boyer's architectural firm, continue reporting to the Vestry, and have something to share at the Annual Parish Meeting.
Please remember our Advent Outreach efforts:
We're decorating the Mitten Tree with mittens, caps, gloves, scarves, and colorful bags of toiletries and candy, for our neighbors served by New Haven's Chapel-on-the-Green -- helping warm our neighbors who live on the margins of plenty in New Haven.
And, we are taking "Angels-under-the-Balcony" to remind us of Christ Church's historic ministry to help keep our neighbors warm by helping with their home heating through the Town's Heating Assistance Program.
In the meantime, I look forward to sharing our Advent journey Sunday morning and afternoon!
lIn faith and hope,
p.s. If you have shared an "Estimate of Giving" for 2018 in our Consecration Sunday stewardship program, you will find your 2018 envelopes at the back of the church. If you haven't completed your "Estimate," cards are available on the Ushers' Table, and your envelopes will be ready for you on the following Sunday.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!