Scripture: Psalm 27
Key verse: (4)
4 One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple.
Reflection: As I write this, Notre Dame Cathedral is burning. The damage looks devastating. On social media, people are posting their own photos from travels there. I looked back through my own vacation album from last summer, when I was standing in front of it, sweltering in a different kind of heat. I can’t bring myself to post any of the pictures, though. My smiling face, my daughter’s Instagram-worthy posing—all of it seems too light-hearted in the face of what seems sure to be a historical loss. I want to lift up the joy of our trip there, and give thanks for the soaring architecture, and the centuries of faithfulness and inspiration represented, and affirm that another renaissance will come. But I’m honestly too sad today.
I’m also conflicted. I understand the collective and communal sadness at the damage to an architectural wonder. I’m also aware that my travel photos in front of it, and yours if you have them, remind us of our privilege. To hold a passport, to have so many vacation photos I have to really concentrate to find the right ones, to have an office with a window that has a Rose window sticker from the Notre Dame gift shop in it—all this reminds me how very fortunate I am. And we are. And how so many lose so much every day, while I too often scroll right past.
Holy Week is a week of sadness, and conflicted feelings. It’s a week of loss and tears, and beauty turned into ashes. It’s a week of power and privilege seeming to overwhelm humility and weakness. It’s a week when Jesus takes all the messiness in me, in you, in our culture and our world, and bears it willingly, out of love. There may not be services this week in Notre Dame, but there are opportunities here to lift all our messy conflicted selves to God, and remember how we are known, loved, and redeemed. Join us for prayer stations in the parlor, Wednesday morning communion in the chapel, Maundy Thursday service in the sanctuary, and Good Friday service in Oxford Hall. Join us to get ready for Easter Sunday. Like the story of the cathedral in the middle of Paris, which is sure to be rebuilt, the story of Jesus doesn’t end in ashes. We know that Sunday is coming.
Prayer: Lord, you take all our mess, and our humanity, and love us anyway. Help us walk through this week fully. Help us not look away from the ashes of death and destruction. Prepare us for the joy of Easter resurrection. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].