Our world was aghast this week when Notre Dame in Paris was heavily damaged in a fire. Many people have posted pictures of past visits, thankful they could see it before this happened. Our own family was there in 1992, when we visited friends in France. Already, there are plans to rebuild the famed church.
As I looked at these pictures of Notre Dame on fire it reminded me of other significant buildings, or their ruins, that I have visited. Each of them tell a story.
Starting close to home, I have this beautiful window in our home. It’s from the Brownsburg Christian Church sanctuary that was built in 1923, torn down in 2003. I inherited the window from my parents, and it is one of my favorite things they passed on to me. It reminds me of our family’s spiritual heritage, of my childhood in that sanctuary, of Connection Pointe’s living history. We have seven services this Easter weekend. Here are service times...
In 2011 Connie and I took a trip to Egypt to celebrate our 30thanniversary. We toured several ancient temples on our Nile cruise, and I have to admit they were impressive. But at one of them, as we were being told of all the digging that had been done to find and restore buildings and artifacts, I had this thought: What if God covered all these places of Egyptian worship with sand because they were the wrong gods? They weren’t built to worship the One True Living God, so why should they be uncovered again? It is no coincidence that shortly after God led His people out of Egypt, this scripture was written:
“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)
I would much rather see Notre Dame restored, with all its Christian history to glorify God, than temples and buildings restored that tried to take God’s place.
On that Egypt trip we also visited St Catherine’s Monastery, at the base of Mt Sinai. How meaningful it was to still see Christian worship being practiced at this site from Exodus, after seeing Egyptian temples empty.
In 2013 Connie and I visited our niece in Jordan. She took us to the Decapolis, and there I saw the ruins of an ancient church. I sat on the wall and pondered, “What happened to this church building? Where is the Christian influence now?” That was the first time in my missionary career to realize that what I had poured my life into in East Africa may one day lie in ruins. That was sobering. But I realized these ancient people of Jordan were faithful to their own generation. I need to do the same.
Earlier this year, I visited India. We met with a gathering of believers, on the veranda of an Anglican church in ruins. The hollow building and furnishings were all dead, but His church is alive right outside the front doors.
Each of the above tells a story:
- France – A heavily burned building still stands and the post-Christian country is reminded again how important their ancient Christian heritage is
- USA – A church window says family spiritual heritage and a living history
- Egypt – temples are covered with sand by Jealous God, but an Egyptian monastery at Mt Sinai still worships God
- Jordan – Church ruins testify of being faithful to our current generation
- India – Hollow buildings die but His Church lives on
I like this verse and live it:
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1)
But when the building is gone, we still have this:
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)
Our buildings are a means to an end. They tell a story. Be sure to invest in a building that tells the Right Story. It’s the Story that will be passed on.
Til next week,