where love is alive 

Like so many folks, I watched on the news Monday as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was in the grip of an imposing inferno. The mere visual of the blaze was disheartening, especially for those people who have visited there in person.  And to our Roman Catholic friends, we know the extreme damage to such an edifice is exceptionally heavy given the grand history of the structure.

In modern America, it is remarkably rare to find a building that has stood for more than 200 years. But in Europe there are multiple cathedrals that required more than 200 years just to build! And they have continued to stand for centuries now beyond their completion.

It is astonishing to think that hundreds of years ago, when tools were elementary and when poverty was aplenty, communities rallied for centuries with manpower and resources to erect these great cathedrals. Today we build houses of worship primarily designed for the gathering of people. And while the faithful do assemble inside cathedral walls, they primarily were constructed as monuments to God.  The purpose of these basilicas is to testify of the greatness of the Lord and to tell the story of His enormous love for us through Jesus.

Today, Christendom both grieves the damage to a cherished place and embraces France’s inspiration to rebuild it. But it is also worthy of note that as Christians we do not worship a building, even a historic and cherished one. Instead, we worship the one to whom the building points: The Lord Himself.

In the Ten Commandments, God cautioned His people not to create, bow down to, nor serve any “graven image” (Exodus 20:4-5).  He knew that our longing for something long lasting and tangible could well redirect our trust away from the One who is everlasting and intangible.

I find it interesting that neither the gospels nor Christian history left any detailed description of the appearance of Jesus. Artists do their best, but their depictions of our Lord’s physical features are conjecture.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit intentionally inspired the apostolic authors to omit these personal details, lest we place our faith in man-made images of God’s Son rather than the Son Himself.

On this Holy Week, amid all our special worship experiences, I pray that as followers of Jesus we will walk with Him through His Passion and His Resurrection.  As we do, may we focus upon the One to whom every cross, every sanctuary, every steeple, every cathedral, and every icon ultimately points:  Jesus Christ the Resurrected Lord!                                                                                                                                – Jay


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