Up in flames

Up in flames

Once in a while, something happens that grips the attention of the world, something that transcends race, language, religion, and national boundary. Such occurred last Monday when we were assaulted with the haunting images of Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames. This noble and storied place of worship that survived for more than 850 years, even enduring the ravages of World War II, was “beheaded” as one person put it, apparently by a workman’s negligence.

France is one of the most secular countries in Europe, but this jolting tragedy seemed to stir long dormant spiritual instincts. Those who admitted to being lapsed Catholics were deeply moved by this loss. At this writing more than $700,000,000 has already been donated to its rebuilding and President Macron has vowed to do so within the next five years. It seems impossible but then, so did the moon race.

It is also ironic that this occurred at the start of Holy Week; the week when the hopes and dreams of the followers of Jesus went up in flames. When Jesus breathed his last on that cross, the few who had the courage to stand vigil with him were jolted and numbed at the loss of someone so beautiful, so majestic, so powerful.

But try as they might, the forces of evil did not have the last word. Easter is our celebration—the world’s celebration—of the victory of a God who specializes in raising hope out of the ashes of destruction.

I am sending this blog post earlier than usual because I want to prompt you to begin your Easter vigil this evening, Maundy Thursday, at 7:00. We do nothing else quite like this service and the music department has crafted an exquisite celebration of that Last Supper on that Last Night. Please come.

Then Easter! Five services to choose from. If you prefer a more traditional service, you will want to join me for the 7:00 Sunrise service or 8:30. (We will reward the early birds with hot cross buns and abundant parking.) Whatever your style, it’s not too late to invite a friend. And please, as you read this, will you pause to pray that every one of the thousands who show up this weekend, both believer and casual, will encounter the risen Christ in a new and powerful way. Please pray that right now.