Notre Dame – The morning after the fire. 16.4.19
Last night I caught a glimpse of the sad news of the fire that had taken hold of Notre Dame in Paris. Like many others I was sadden and shocked and reminded of my own visit there many years ago. As I went to bed, I wondered what tomorrow would bring for the people of Paris who were out on the streets watching in sadness and even singing hymns as this iconic building burned. When I woke, I was glad to hear that the fire was under control. However, many thoughts started to flow when confronted by the devastation of it all and the long-lasting implications that it will have.
I though of the fire fighters who put their lives at risk to save this historic building. Their professionalism, dedication and team work should surely be celebrated.
I thought of those whose livelihood depends on this building. The workers involved in the renovations, the tour guides and the café and shop workers that cater to tourists and pilgrims alike.
I thought of those that express a ministry in that building just like I do in the church where I am a Parish Minister. In ministry, going out to people often goes hand in hand with welcoming people to your place of worship. To have one of those expressions taken is desperately sad, though it will no doubt invigorate the ‘going out’ to the people.
As is often the way with these things, as my thoughts were forming, I was engaging with what people were saying online. Something said by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, resonated with me.
I was reminded that for all those who will be impacted, the building stands as a place where many, over the years, have encountered the love of Christ as they have spent time in this place of sanctuary, sacrament and ministry.
Today is a sad day. For those mentioned above, and the many others impacted, today is a sad day.
We must, though, frame this sadness in the context of the hope that we live out as the Church. Be it the Church in Paris, Scotland or anywhere for that fact, we stand firm in the context of a hope that triumphs over sadness and loss. Yes, this hope is proclaimed and encountered in our precious and sacred buildings, but it is certainly not limited to them.
These sad events that have unfolded take place in Holy Week and understandably the Easter Celebrations planned for Notre Dame will be drastically affected but I am quietly confident that this Easter might prove to be one of the most powerful wherever they take place.
This Sunday it will be proclaimed that Christ rose from the grave, that death could not contain him. Though the devastation of the building might be apparent the triumph of Christ must and will resound.
Following Easter, the task for Paris will be to rebuild – something that will no doubt be undertaken with skill and vigour.
My prayer though is that as we see the cathedral being rebuilt – and indeed celebrated – alongside this the Church might share and celebrate stories of lives being rebuilt in the love of Christ. For no matter how desperate and sad things may seem, for buildings and for people, there is hope in Jesus Christ who triumphed over the grave.