Up From the Ashes, Beauty Will Rise!

Dear Friends,
I am writing this on the Tuesday of Holy Week.
My heart and mind are balancing delicately somewhere between Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter. I was moved again, as I always am, as I read for you last Sunday the passion narrative of our Lord from Mark’s gospel. In my sermon that morning I pointed out the “obvious and intended tension” that was in the air as we worshiped. Both the triumph and the tragedy of Jesus’ life are necessary in order to fully embrace the promise of the resurrection which comes on Easter.

Notre Dame Cathedral Burns During Holy Week

I’m feeling that tension still as I prepare my sermons for Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday morning.
I know to expect this tension every year in Holy Week as I strive to most effectively help you experience the events leading up to the resurrection in a new way. However, what I wasn’t expecting to add to that holy tension this year, was the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

From Triumph to Tragedy – A powerful image of Holy Week

The bombardment of images of that majestic and holy cathedral, on fire, in the midst of Holy Week, have caused not only me, but countless others, to reflect even more on the tension between triumph and tragedy and the hope of new life to come. The President of France, Catholic Church leaders, and Catholics around the world have vowed that this great cathedral, an image of holiness and sacredness, will be restored in all of its glory.
“Notre Dame Will Rise From the Ashes” the news headlines proclaimed to the world, who they said, “this 850 year old church belongs to.”
The passion of Christ is hard to hear and listen to and experience each and every year, I agree. But it’s crucial to do so, in order to be reminded of the new life and resurrection that is to come. We understand too, that the darkness of Christ’s passion will continue to hover over us and our world, even after Easter. The pain of death never leaves us as we would hope it might. Our own diseases, our own mortality, our own failures are constant reminders of the passion of Christ which He endured.
Despite such vivid and constant reminders we also are confident, believing that Christ’s passion was not the end of the story. God has promised Easter every day. In the waters of our baptism we raise to new life every single day. In the midst of difficult and painful days we know Christ walks with us – even in the darkest of times, even through the black smoke of fire and destruction. Fire and destruction will not have the last word for the Cathedral of Notre Dame as persecution, suffering, and death did not have the last word for Jesus.
The people of France and people all around the world will again be able to embrace restoration rather than destruction and life rather than death. For nothing – nothing – can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus!
I look forward to shouting “Alleluia!” again on Easter Sunday morning. Though our “alleluias” may seem muted at times, the trumpet will continue to blow its life-giving blasts in God’s good time. Ours is a God of Easter and new life. I pray you see the signs of new life all around you – not only this Spring – but in every time and season of your lives.

Pr. Dale