For the last three days, my news feed has been full of stories about the burning of the cathedral in Paris along with information about the donations for rebuilding. As I read the articles that fill the internet over this event, I am trying to approach this through the eyes of a believer.
First, I understand the importance of the architecture and the history of the Church captured by a building. I have been a witness to several Church buildings being torn down through the years, and people will always tell me the pain it causes to lose it. It conjures up memories of personal decisions, moments of discovery and milestones in life. I realize humanity can develop an emotional connection with inanimate objects as we walk the journey of faith.
Second, I am reminded that the Church is not a building. The Church is a collection of people who follow Jesus together. It is people who make up the Church and not some stone and mortar building created for ministry to occur and God to be worshipped. Even when the meeting place is burned to the ground, the people will continue to be the Lord’s Church.
There is always this tension between the people of Jesus, the building the use, and the memories that are generated in that location.
Events like the burning of Notre Dame should cause us to reflect on what really matters as a Church. Do we care more about our buildings or the people of Jesus? This cathedral is giving us the most dramatic form of this question.
The only things needed to have a Church is Jesus and people willing to follow him. I understand the power a place can hold in our hearts, but what really matters can never be lost.