We stayed under the shadow of Notre-Dame last time we were in Paris and visited twice.
We sat in solemn resonance through a service.
We climbed the 387 steps to the bell tower.
We breathed in the ethereal air above the Parisian landscape.
And, we gazed in rapture at the dazzling stained glass windows. But, it never once crossed my mind that it might be the last time I would ever have such a rare privilege.
Yesterday, in a matter of twelve hours, a fire destroyed two-thirds of the roof and enveloped the interior of this iconic 856-year-old bastion of our Christian faith, which is home to more than half a million parishioners.
As of yet, the extent of the damage is unknown, although there have been reports that heat melted the lead holding the panes of some of the stained glass windows, and France’s largest pipe organ, with its 8,000 pipes, has suffered damage.
Nearly 400 fire-fighters battled heroically to save the twin bell towers,
although the cathedral’s spire has collapsed.
The stone exterior of the building has been saved, but so much of the interior was made from wood that there are questions about the basic integrity of the cathedral. Is enough intact for it to withstand rebuilding?
Beyond structural issues, Notre-Dame cathedral was filled with irreplaceable treasures, including seventy-six paintings dating back to the 1600-1700s, along with many other relics, statues, and carvings, some of which have been saved, but many which could not.
This morning, a team will be assessing the damage, and I find myself holding my breath as I await further news.
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised the world that France will rebuild Notre-Dame, and two french billionaires have already pledged $339 million towards the restoration. A call has gone out for the those who are artistically gifted throughout the Christian world to offer their help in the restoration. But, will it ever be the same?
The answer, of course, is that it will not! In the Gospel of John, Jesus forewarns his disciples that life will be full of sorrow and troubles, but that we can find comfort, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Even though we suffer great disappointments in this world that change our lives forever, that doesn’t end God’s goodness or his constant work within us.
God will make something new for us, just like He will make us new! As He promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” I believe God will help the world rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, just as I believe God will give new life to all who put their trust in him!
God is THE God of love and mercy. He is always up to something good, even in the midst of apparent evil: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Our responsibility is to believe in God and do what He’s asked us to do: to accept forgiveness for our sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to surrender our hearts to Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He can make something new from the ashes of our lives, just as I believe He will make something new from the devastating loss of Notre-Dame.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1-7).
*I took all the above photos on our last trip to Notre-Dame, in May of 2016. If you’re looking for even more photos and information, I wrote an earlier post here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/the-glory-that-is-paris-cathedrale-notre-dame/