Today one of the French national treasures and the Cathedral of Paris, Notre Dame, has burned out of control. There are promises to rebuild. The great and the good are horrified.
A firefighter battling a massive blaze which has ripped through Notre-Dame Cathedral has been seriously injured, but authorities say the structure has been saved from “total destruction”. Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old Paris cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof. A French firefighting official said one fireman was seriously injured battling the blaze. “We now believe that the two towers of Notre-Dame have been saved,” Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet told reporters at the scene. “We now consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved.” There was still a risk that some of the interior structures could collapse, and firefighters would work overnight to cool them down, he said. President Emmanuel Macron said the cathedral would be rebuilt and an international fundraising campaign would be launched. “We will rebuild because it is what French people expect, it is what our history deserves.” He said the whole nation was distressed. “Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweetedOtago daily times.
The good news is that the church is not the buildings, but the people. Buildings burn, particularly if neglected, and institutions fall because of rot, often deliberately engendered by the enemies of the gospel. But the church survives because the gospel survives. Christ is not with us, but his work remains. And that matters more than any cathedral.
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man mu
st be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.John 12:20-36
It is not the church we need to fear, but that we will be in the darkness, without the light of the gospel to guide us. Let us always look there. Notre Dame has burned, and this is a loss of a place of art and worship. But the work of Christ continues.