Gratitude Day 253
Wed., Apr. 17, 2019
1 Peter 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Nearly 21 years ago, I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral. When I heard that it was on fire on Monday, like many others, I recalled the time I had visited this beautiful church in Paris.
I was traveling with my friend Kristin. We spent 40 days traveling in Europe. The last several days, we toured Paris. Of course, we spent time at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Throughout this trip, we visited some magnificent churches. We were amazed by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In Florence, I was awestruck by the Duomo. The unfinished La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was so different. We took in St. Paul’s in London. With so many churches to visit and see in Europe, we quickly made a rule: no more than three churches a day. Otherwise, we lost some of the amazing features of the churches we visited.
What do I remember about Notre Dame? The stain-glassed windows. Hands down, the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen. The beauty of the rose window is most difficult to describe and impossible to capture in a photograph.
Construction of Notre Dame took nearly 200 years and was completed in the 1300’s. As Kristin and I walked about the cathedral, the light and windows were overwhelmingly beautiful. How the cathedral was designed, built and structured to capture light and enhance the stained-glass windows without the tools of our modern-day era were beyond our capacity to comprehend.
The interesting timing of the cathedral’s fire at the beginning of Holy Week is not lost on people. During the most difficult week of the Christian calendar, Parisians lost one of their most beautiful buildings in the city. Something like 30,000 people visit the cathedral every day.
What might be something we can take away from this event? How might we look at our faith from a slightly different perspective this Holy Week?
Holy Week will go on whether there is this cathedral or not. Services won’t officially be held at Notre Dame. However, I anticipate thousands and thousands of people will visit. The commitment to rebuild is there. Someday, hopefully, there will be worship services conducted in this building again. It is a powerful message that good can come out of an awful event.
Faith is more than a building. One of the more touching moments I saw in coverage of the fire was the spontaneous group of people who stood near the cathedral singing. People can and will continue to worship whether this building is useable or not. Thanks be to God.
With God, there is always hope. In the grand scheme, the fire could have been even more devastating. Stories of fire fighters forming a human chain to remove pieces of art and treasured items from the building is inspiring. An unburnt cross hanging amongst the rubble sends a strong message. Christian faith is unique in that we have hope of something more to come. Death doesn’t have the last word; hope does.
As we recall the difficult events that happened during the last hours of Jesus’ life, may we remember that he always had hope. He knew how the story would end. He knew that death would not have the last word. Jesus knew hope is a powerful emotion … when we embody its powerful nature.
I pray the people of France have hope this Holy Week. I pray we see this fire as one more opportunity to embrace the hope of our faith.
For hope in our Christian journey, I am grateful.
Holy God – may we see the fire of such a beautiful cathedral as not something You chose to happen but simply one of those things that happens. I pray we find hope in You this day and week. Amen.
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