Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The Notre Dame Cathedral
Today will long be remembered as the day an 800 year-old icon of western civilization was either accidentally or purposefully set ablaze. When the embers fade, perhaps Notre Dame Cathedral will be completely lost; perhaps not.
But whatever the cause, or the case, what is known even now, today, as it still burns, is that a magnificent monument to architectural and artistic brilliance and beauty may be irretrievably gone.
Like so many religious monuments of late that have been damaged or destroyed in France, as well as elsewhere, it would seem a season of Darkness is slowly overtaking a season of Light. We may come to know that, in time, as well.
But when it comes to man-made cathedrals, that’s the way of wood, stone, and glass. It burns, crumbles, and cracks. The best we build will only join the rest we build as first, a work in progress, next a work in repair, and lastly, perhaps, a work in reconstruction. Time, tide–and sometimes tyrants–take all, at least here on terra firma.
But there is another cathedral, house of worship, temple, if you will, that also comes to mind today. An edifice impervious to fire, rust, and all the rest–including mankind. A church that Jesus looked around for one day, and found.
The story goes like this.
The Holy Spirit Cathedral
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:13-18, NIV).
The “church” Jesus was looking for was not a what but a who, a human being to whom God the Father had revealed Who He, the Messiah, was. “The one” who would be the first member of the real “church”–ekklésia: “the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth; collectively, all who worship and honor God and Christ in whatever place they may be,” also known as the Body of Christ, by Holy Spirit re-born and by Holy Spirit led.
Jesus was not looking for some grand, glittering edifice, although those are lovely and bring out the best in art and architecture and remind us of God’s glory. He was looking for a living, breathing, flesh and blood cathedral, if you will, housing–and yielding to–the Spirit of God, a spiritual church against whom “not even the gates of Hades — than which nothing was supposed to be stronger — shall surpass…in strength.”
Peter just happened to be the first.
And the real church continues to grow, despite fire, flood, and foe.
Don’t know this God?
The good news is, He’s still searching for members today.
Here’s what to do.