A Wake-Up Call For The Church

Here it is Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection, during a time when the world just witnessed an utter catastrophe at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Constructed 850 years ago, the wow and wonder built into the magnificent megastructure were accomplished by individuals who knew they would die before it was completed. Yet, they did it realizing that there was a greater reality than earth which transcended this life to the realm of God. That extraordinary edifice took 100 years to erect, but the protracted project portrayed the intent to reflect the sacred infinite weightiness of the Almighty God.

Looking at the pictures of rubble piled up from the devastating damage done to the architectural masterpiece, I marveled at what endured the inferno. Standing in the sanctuary littered with charred debris and dangling wreckage around it, the cross remained where it always stood unscathed. I couldn’t help but think of the hymn, “In the Cross of Christ I Glory:”

In the cross of Christ I glory,

Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;

All the light of sacred story

Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,

Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,

Never shall the cross forsake me,

Lo! It glows with peace and joy.

Clips from television and pictures on the internet showed the cross aglow in the backdrop of the blackened interior. We as believers in Christ spiritually “put all our marbles in one basket,” which is the cross of Jesus, known to many affectionately as “The Old Rugged Cross.” The symbolism of the cross withstanding the ruination of a raging fire points to eternal consolation in the face of the everlasting condemnation. Whatever ornateness was obliterated by the disaster confronted the world with the simplicity, centrality and durability of the cross.

Witnessing the towering flames engulf the historic and majestic cathedral, people looked on horrified by what they saw. I could not help but think of Jesus being ruthlessly driven to his crucifixion. Seeing people mourn for him, he mustered the wherewithal to tell them to mourn more for themselves over what was to come. His concern for them came through even while he himself suffered through the savagery of the Romans. Isn’t the heart of God more concerned over where the hearts of the people are at with His Son than with the mangled remnants of a building made to glorify Him? I hope this wakes people up not so much to restore a ravaged building but to snap out of the spiritual lethargy, apathy and antipathy pervasively ravaging many souls today and be restored to Christ.

I’ve read that it will take years to restore that awe-inspiring cathedral. Seeing what was shockingly destroyed, the words of Jesus yet again came to mind when he said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” He was not referring to the glorious temple built in Jerusalem. He meant his own body. Darkened in their understanding, many missed what he was getting at. Yet, it happened on the third day just as he said, and if you take him on his terms, you stake everything on it. The transcendence conveyed by the Notre Dame is real in the resurrected body of Jesus Christ. Happy Resurrection Day!

The Rev. Mel McGinnis is a Frewsburg resident and pastor of the Kiantone Congregational Church.

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