Friday, 19 April 2019

No Temple In the Great City

Reactions to the Burning of Notre-Dame

“Assuredly, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Paris is, to this day, a majestic and sublime edifice. But noble as it has remained while growing old, one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man.”  
Victor Hugo,  The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

As we reflect this week on the burning of Notre-Dame, particularly at Easter, there has to be a mixture of  grief and perspective. 

Grief and a sense of loss.  We have never visited Notre-Dame, so the question is begged, Why?  Why the sense of loss?  Because if we had the opportunity, we would have loved to visit, inspect, ruminate upon the past, and marvel at the grandeur and glory of French gothic architecture. 

Thankfulness.  We are grateful for the works of art and other cultural icons which have survived, having been carried to safety.  We are thankful that there is no reported loss of life. 

Perspective.  In the ancient world, Solomon's Temple was unmatched for grandeur, glory, and divine significance.  Yet it was destroyed--by the hands of the Babylonians in the sixth century BC.  The deeper cause was not the Babylonians, but Israel's systemic covenant breaking over many centuries. 

The current depredations of Notre-Dame are not unique.  They do not inspire us nor provoke us to "feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted" upon it.  Rather, the situation  provokes us to look, once again, through the divine prism of the eschatology of Scripture. 

In the great celestial city yet to come the glory of Notre-Dame will be withered.  In the Great City to come, we are told, there will be no temple, no cathedral, no equivalent of Notre-Dame. 
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.  [Rev.21: 22-27]  

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