The Cross and the Flames


We barely enter into this Holy Week before we are met with images of Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze. And only a few weeks ago, three historically black churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana also went up in flames. Thankfully no one was killed and injuries were minimal.

While all these incidents are terrible-- the loss of irreplaceable history, memories tied to a pew, an altar, a song, a life-altering experience of God's grace and mercy -- they are by no means a tragedy. Tragedies must end with the humiliation of the hero. Yet consider the responses: Louisiana declares, "they did not burn down our spirit". Paris sings hymns over the din of sirens. Those aren't tones of humiliation, they are echoes of resurrection.

Some have come to believe Christianity cannot function without a building. Never mind Christ's own temple was torn down at the end of this Holy Week. Never mind the early Jewish believers met in homes after being kicked out of their own temple. The truth is, church happens wherever God's people gather together to consciously break from the fires raging in our world, to instead honor and glorify the God of our hope. From Paris, to Louisiana, to Baghdad -- it is what we've been taught to do over these last 2,000 years. Through the revolutions in every age, past the various prejudices entrenched in our humanity, underground and over oceans; when Christ builds a church, He builds it to last.

So when I hear the people singing to God outside of Notre Dame Cathedral, I am hearing concrete foundations being reset. We are watching the first planks being fastened as a church begins rebuilding. Put another way, God's people never see a burning church, only a burning building. That doesn’t make the fires in Paris or Louisiana any less painful, just not quite the tragedy they could have been otherwise. How is that possible? I hope you might find a place this Sunday where Christians are gathering to worship the resurrected Christ. There you will find our answer, our Savior.

There you will find the church. 

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