From Tragedy to New Life
I visited Notre Dame cathedral on Christmas Eve 1994. I was backpacking across Europe with a couple friends during our Christmas break from school. We were in Paris for a few days and decided there would be no better place to spend Christmas Eve than Notre Dame.
Memory of this trip came flooding back last week as I watched video footage of enormous flames consuming this majestic building. And it happened during Holy Week, the busiest week in church life. It happened during the week in which we Christians mourn the death of Jesus. My heart ached for the congregation that meets within the walls of Notre Dame. They lost their building. Their worship plans were drastically altered. Life changed on April 15th. Of course, Holy Week does not end with tragedy. It ends with the resurrection. It ends with new life.
The fire at Notre Dame elicited an outpouring of emotion. It was heartbreaking to watch the demise of this great cathedral. People mourned what felt like the loss of one of the world’s great architectural treasures. And yet, fire-fighters did an incredible job saving a significant part of the structure as well as countless other treasures and artifacts. The people of the world also came togethering by pledging nearly one billion dollars to help rebuild Notre Dame. That’s a staggering figure – and it happened within one day of the fire.
So, what does this outpouring of emotion and generosity indicate? Many things could be said, but for me, it highlights a desire among the world’s people for renewal and new life. And isn’t it amazing how new life often springs forth from tragedy? God works in mighty ways.
I also believe the tremendous response to Notre Dame indicates a deep desire to connect with the Divine. While we often hear reports of doom and gloom for the church, I believe this tragedy reveals something different. It reveals that the world still has a tremendous desire to connect with God. The Lord is the One who is able to bring new life out of any situation, no matter how destructive it may look, and this is the good news we are called to live and share with others. So, let’s live as resurrection people by focusing on life rather than death. Let’s be the church!