We all saw the images on Monday, and couldn’t believe what we were seeing.
Millions of people from all over the world have traveled to France to see Notre-Dame de Paris, the cathedral that is both an artistic and engineering marvel. It took 100 years to complete the structure. The famous oak roof was constructed from 52 acres of forest, using carved beams that were bigger and stronger than the forest trees that exist today.
As the fire burned on Monday, people grieved the loss of such a treasure. Even the non-religious mourned the destruction of a monument to French history and culture.
As Mary Ann and I toured a half dozen European cathedrals last summer in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary, we found ourselves speechless time after time. The craftsmanship, the artistry, the architectural and engineering expertise on display in each building was breathtaking.
And while there were no doubt mixed motives involved in the construction of each of the buildings, it was sobering to think about those who both labored and funded the cathedrals. While the wealthy and powerful had extravagant palaces and homes for themselves, the idea that places of worship in European cities would reflect the grandeur and the majesty of God was not disputed.
Alan Cross is a Baptist pastor in Montgomery Alabama. As the fire was still blazing, he reflected on the lost of such a monumental structure.
“In seminary, lots of people said the church is not the building, and why do we need buildings, and then we threw up metal buildings and shopping mall like structures for churches. The concept of sacred space was lost. Today, Notre Dame burns and the world mourns. We were wrong.”
He continued. “Church buildings are beautiful and meaningful when they point us beyond ourselves to Heaven, to God. That was idea behind medieval churches - to point to the transcendent for a people, largely illiterate. Of course, the church IS the people, but we’re wired for beauty too.
“We don’t need a space as grand as Notre Dame - or any space at all. God comes near penitent hearts. BUT, creating space to meet God, to pray, to go beyond ourselves - a space that lasts - there is merit there. Not as a temple limiting access, but as a set apart place.”
Our new church building on David O’Dodd road in Little Rock will be no Notre-Dame. It will be simple and functional.
Our hope is that our new church home will be warm and inviting and comfortable. We want people to come in and join us and feel at home.
But I hope that inside our simple and functional facility, for years to come, men and women will find themselves freshly aware of the greatness of the God we serve. I hope that our loaves and fishes offering to Him will be multiplied in ongoing stories of lives being changed because people stepped into a space that has been set apart for the exaltation of God, the proclamation of His word and the corporate celebration of His majesty and glory.
Peter tells us that a day is coming when every cathedral, every church, every planet and sun and star will be consumed by fire.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Experts say it will take more than 40 years to rebuild what was destroyed by fire on Monday. I don’t imagine I’ll be around to see the work completed. Some days, I wonder if any of us will.
But until the day when the Lord comes like a thief, my prayer is that our new church home on David O’Dodd will be a gospel outpost for people in Little Rock who are in desperate need of hearing and believing the good news that death has been defeated, and that there are new heavens and a new earth coming for all who love His appearing.
We will be gathering as a church family twice this weekend. First on Friday night at 7:00 pm to meditate and reflect upon Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. And then Sunday morning at 10:00, we’ll gather to rejoice together in the news of the empty tomb and the risen Lord.
Tonight, our doorbell rang at dinner time, and two elementary aged young ladies presented us with an invitation to an Easter Sunday service at a nearby church. Mary Ann smiled and explained that we were already otherwise engaged on Sunday and that I would be telling people about Jesus’ resurrection at our church. They smiled and wished us a happy Easter.
As they left, I wondered how many of us have invited a co-worker or a friend or a neighbor to join us for either the Good Friday service or for our Easter Service. Take just a minute right now and ask God if there is anyone you ought to call or text to see if they’d like to join you at either service this weekend.
Also this weekend, you have a chance to see a well done animated telling of the John Bunyan classic The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Most of you are familiar with the well known allegory that was written in the late 1600’s. I’ve seen a sneak preview of the film, and delighted at how the filmmakers have brought the story to life. The animation doesn’t match what we’ve come to expect from Pixar and Disney. But the storytelling is first rate. You can read a full review of the film here. And you can see a trailer for the film here.
If you’re interested in seeing the movie on the big screen, you have only two opportunities. Tomorrow night (Thursday) at 7:00 pm or Saturday at 12:55 pm. Kids under seven might get fidgety, but older kids – and their parents – will find the movie well worth seeing and discussing. For theater and ticket information, click here.
Last week, I shared with you that we had about $4500 still available in our matching gift fund for building extras. This past Sunday, someone decided to make sure we were able to claim all of those remaining matching funds! Thank you Lord!
As you know, the total budget for our list of building “extras” is about $220,000. As of now, we’re about half way to that total. Thanks to your generosity, we’ll be able to move in with a new sound system in place, with projectors and lighting ready to go and with updated video streaming capabilities.
Our hope is that as additional funds and pledges come in, we can move forward on purchasing needed furniture, updated accessories for the nursery and toddler areas, classrooms, and an outdoor playground for the kids, among other things.
Would you pray about how you might help with these needs? Mark any checks you write with Building in the memo line, or select Building from the drop down menu when you make a donation on line.
Don’t forget the upcoming women’s worship night, Friday, April 26 at the church at 7:00 pm. All ladies are welcome to attend.
Moms and Dads – if you’d like to have your son or daughter dedicated to the Lord on Mother’s Day, May 12, please contact Cathy Crowell and let her know. She needs to hear from you before May 5. Cathy’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to learn more about membership at Redeemer and find out more about our church in the process, check this out. Matt need to hear from you this week if you’re planning to attend.
As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this weekend, we’ll look at the very first resurrection sermon ever preached. God used this sermon to start the gospel movement that has been continuing now for 2000 years!
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!