I cried, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I cried when I saw 800 years of tradition and history go down in flames this past week. It seems ironic to me that the cathedral burned during the Holiest week of the Christian church. Almost a symbol, almost a message to the world, don’t you think?
In a “past life” I was very extremely, obsessively involved in the life of my church. I was the children’s ministry director and my husband was the youth pastor. We went to church services twice a week, taught Sunday school, attended leadership meetings, and strategic planning sessions, planned and attended youth group events and outings… we were utterly and absolutely involved in our church, It was our life, it was our family~ we were so intertwined and invested in the community and the people there that I sometimes did not know where I ended and the community began.
Then… everything changed.
The Episcopal diocese announced that pastors would be required to perform same-sex marriages…
The tight knit community I had been involved in was torn in debate, they were divided in opionions about this administrative decision. A rift formed, a bitter argument here and meetings upon meetings followed to decide the direction we would go. Would we stay with the Episcopal church? or would we break away from the whole denomination? Our acting pastor at the time, did not believe in same sex marriage, he refused to perform these ceremonies Either way he would be leaving.. which was heartbreaking and devastating to us, we were very close with him and believed in the sermons and messages he gave. We believed in “absolute truth” at the time and believed the Bible was the infaillible word of God. We were heartsick our community was breaking apart at the seams.
The pastor left the denomination, and joined up with an African based Anglican church and some went with him. Others went to other similar churches, some wanted to stay but the Episcopal church owned the church and grounds… so we, if we stayed would be without a spiritual home. As they were dictating what would happen and the future of the church overall, and the community was disolving.
No physical church was dumbfounding… my kids had been baptized in that church, we’d sponsored 3 new chairs/pews in that church, we had attended funerals, weddings and desperation in the form of prayers when experiencing secondary infertility, healing in the form of prayer conferences, training in safety and leadership for the children’s and youth ministry
And all of that was physically going away…
I felt lost,
I felt like I was a small boat being tossed violently on a stormy sea..
I felt confused,
I felt like I was experiencing a death...
I heard a French woman describe how she was feeling as the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned and was destroyed…
and it was the same way I felt when we “lost” our church as well…
What was an infinitely safe place and a haven to run to when the world got crazy was gone.
I was immediately brought back to this time in my life as I saw flames engulf that world renowned spire tip and surrender to the hellish orange flames licking up to it’s tip.
Here are a few words to the French people as they go through this time without their beloved sanctuary based on my different but somewhat similar situation:
1. God is everywhere, God is not held by walls, bricks, or spires. God walks with us each and every moment in every day, no matter where we are. If you have Jesus in your heart, that is your “church”. Sure, it’s great to be in community with other believers, and profess our faith, and support each other in prayer, happy and sad times~ but that doesn’t mean God has abandoned you if you don’t go to a church service every week. No matter where you go, He will be there, even if your church is not.
For the LORD your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you … The LORD your God will always be at your side, and he will never abandon you.
– Deuteronomy 31:6
2. Allow yourself to grieve, an end of an era is ending for the time being. It is a loss, and you’re entitled to all of the emotions you are feeling, no matter what they are. I know I was angry and sad and disillusioned, and I still go through periods of sadness when we “lost” our church. It was a very big part of your life, and it’s perfectly normal to go through a period of being reflective, sad, angry, regretful, or any emotions. Welcome those feelings, and work through them. Journal if need be, tell others how you feel, especially those who were/are your fellow parishoners. You’re not alone.
Jesus completely understands grief, He came to this Earth and experienced all human emotions, even though he was God incarnate. I recall when Lazarus, Jesus’ friend died in the Bible… He understands your emotions and heartache right now. Cry out to Him in your time of need.
Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.– John 11:33-36, 38
3. Let us not forget, God is in control and all things that happen~even as unfortunate, and heartbreaking as some may be, it all happens according to His will. He has a master plan at hand, and don’t forget His plans are always better than human plans.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11
4. God is omnipotent, had he not wanted Notre Dame de Paris to remain intact over the last 800+ years of it’s existence, it wouldn’t have been. Time means nothing to him. People are predicting the restoration will take decades, thinking like this does not allow for God’s miracles, it discredits his power. Humans live on “chronos” time (time according to human understanding) but God operates on “kairos” time.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.- Colossians 4:5
Regarding chronos and kairos. Both are Greek words which mean time, but they imply different things. Chronos refers to minutes and seconds. It refers to time as a measurable resource.
Kairos is the word used for time in Ephesians 5:16 (which I examined in more detail here). Kairos means an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a due season… The Greek word is kairos, which means time. But not just any idea of time: Kairos
isn’t about minutes and seconds and wristwatches and sundials. It’s not
about the flow of time or a specific measurement of time.
Instead, kairos carries with it the idea of the right time –
the idea of a pre-determined time or an opportune time. “How much time
before lunch?” would not use the word kairos. “Is it time to
have lunch?” would. One is speaking of time in minutes and seconds,
where the other is speaking of a point in time. Furthermore, kairos doesn’t have to be an instant. It could be a short window of time, like time to take a break. Or it could be a longer window of time, as in harvest time.
And in those examples, the kairos is the time where you
better get moving. Those crops aren’t going to harvest themselves. It is
the appointed time, the proper time, the slice of time where you have
an opportunity – but that kairos is going to eventually slip away.
Redeeming the time, to exagarazo the kairos, you
are purchasing out of slavery the fleeting opportunities that you are
presented with. In other words, you “make the most of every opportunity”
or “make the most of your time” as the NASB and NIV translations state.
–-Credit: The Life of A Steward