"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days," Jesus answered. The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:19-22 NIV)
I’m still trying to process the timing of the fire that destroyed much of Notre Dame Cathedral during Holy week. Sentiments of horror, shock and sadness flooded Facebook, Twitter feeds, and Instagram posts, with thousands of people posting pictures of their Paris pilgrimage and themselves beside this great temple named after Jesus’ mom. I’m not suggesting that it was an intentional act, by man or God, but one ironic blessing is that Notre Dame had been crumbling and falling into disrepair for years, with pleas for financial support mostly falling on deaf ears, despite the fact that over 14 million people a year visit this famous French landmark. Notre Dame, like many churches, had fallen below budget, and church services or mass are generally full, only during Easter and Christmas, however, the tragic news and worldwide coverage has spurred an outpouring of financial generosity, and during the week that we celebrated the Passion of Jesus, over a billion dollars was pledged to restore this famous cathedral.
As I was reflecting on this tragedy and our Christian culture’s post Holy Week interest and Easter attendance in our own churches, I couldn’t help but think, “Has Easter become our Notre Dame?” It seems, only a week or two out, from both the fire that burned within that great Catholic cathedral, and the fire that many pastors prayed would be lit on Easter morning and continue to burn in churches across this great country, that both flames have either diminished or been extinguished. Perhaps one of the most tragic ironies is both the Notre Dame Cathedral, which literally towered over the people of France, and The Body of Christ known as the church, which once served as a tower of refuge and strength for America, now has little influence on either nation’s faith. Like Notre Dame, we need to be saddened by the crumbling of our country’s Christian faith. We need to be shocked into action, and most of all, like that temple, we, as temples of the Holy Spirit, need to be restored. We need to pray. We need to act, and we need to share the love of Christ with our neighbors near and far. We need revival - in our church, in our community, in our country, and in our hearts.
We also need to remember, as Jesus foretold, that you can destroy the building, but you can never destroy the Temple. That Temple was and is the risen body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was born of (Notre Dame) the Virgin Mary, lived a perfect life, was unjustly crucified, died and then buried, and Who rose from the dead to save sinners like me…and you. Easter is not about one day, when people find it convenient to go to church, but every day we get out of our comfort zones, and be the hands, feet, heart, and voice of Jesus, even when it’s inconvenient. May Easter be the flame that ignites your faith and inextinguishably burns deep within your heart to make a difference for the Kingdom, from this day going forward. God bless.