It has been some time ago that the world, through their TV channels, watched the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris fall into the blazing fire and smoke below. Yet, a cross that hung in the cathedral survived.
It may be time now to think about the power of the cross as a symbol of hope. The cross is not a symbol of hope fo everyone. Yet it is powerful, whether they think so or not. There may have been some who rejoiced as the cathedral burned because they wished any symbol of Christianity to be destroyed. Just as terrorists wanted the World Trade Towers to no longer be the symbol of economic power, their evil minds set out to destroy them. Symbols, in themselves, do have power to renew our minds and thoughts to something that can become even greater. That is true of the two symbols that are written about in this blog post. The cross being our greatest hope…not wealth, but faith.
In place of those fallen towers, where thousands died…Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and many others with faiths… as well as atheists and agnostics, a great new tower was built. A grand memorial to all who died and suffered that terrible day now stands deep in the belly of the new, grand building.
We remember also over 2,000 First Responders who have died or sick years afterward from illnesses that came upon them trying to reach the victims. This has led President Trump to sign the 9-11 Victims’ Fund to those still suffering.
Tragedies often bring about in the human spirit a desire to rebuild, to remember and to fight against such atrocities and those who propose them.
Instead of shocking, deliberate attacks, such as those on the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the intended attack on the White House, a few are accidental as the burning of the great Cathedral of Notre Dame. The world was dismayed for another reason as we recognized the value of a great work of architecture that had stood for over 850 years, having taken 200 years to build. It was a prize of history, being one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. This church was not only a symbol of Christianity but of the culture and the magnificent antiquities of France.
In the Cathedral of Notre Dame hung a cross, which was only exposed after the fires were put out. Miraculously, it still hung as did some of the magnificent stained glass windows. The French are determined to rebuild this great church and in doing so, we also can believe that it will be a revival of a great symbol of renewal, endurance, and hope. The world needs symbols of hope and none is more powerful than the cross and the great buildings in which a cross is lovingly placed.
Recently, I saw a video of a church standing on an island in Japan. Inside was a great cross, stained glass and though the island is now almost deserted, the church still survives in an unlikely place. Someone build it years ago and it is a symbol of their faith.
For all Christians, the real symbol of hope was never burned in that terrible fire in Paris…the great cross of Christ. That cross, shining bright, amid the ruins of the cathedral, sent the message around the world that the cross of Christ is the true symbol of hope for the world.
Yes, the cathedral will be rebuilt eventually, but the message of Christ in the cross will still shine after the burned rubble is cleared away. The message it brings is forgiveness, a renewed life, and the promise of life eternal through Christ, the Son of God.
The message in the clearing away of the rubble of the Twin Towers in New York City is that out of the ashes rises the great Phoenix of hope, freedom, democracy and renewal. Even in that terrible attack, St. Paul’s Chapel next door to the towers was not destroyed even though the debris fell all around it. The 1st President of the United States, George Washington, worshiped in this church.
It was not the first time, however, that this Christian church had escaped being destroyed. In the first days of the American Revolution, the invasion of British troops sparked the Great Fire of 1776, which destroyed 432 structures in New York. The fire spread to St. Paul’s Chapel and very nearly overwhelmed it, but a bucket brigade managed to squelch the fire. It is now named as the oldest surviving church in Manhattan.
Symbols are important in our lives. Some are international, national, or even personal, but they are often a message of joy, inspiration or hope.
(ABC News tour video) Important: In order to hear sound on the video, you will have to unclick sound symbol.
The largest church in the United States and the longest church in the world may have a message in plain view to the thousands who walk by her door daily and to the visitors from all over the world who enter by her massive arches.
First, we will look at the third phase of the cathedral’s restoration: The Portal of Paradise, as the Cathedral’s central portal is called, was completed by master stone-carver Simon Verity between 1988 and 1997. The figures of the Portal reflect a modernism in their portions and features. … The frieze over the portal doors shows Jesus and below him is John the Divine with paper and quill. Flanking the doors are biblical figures. The most chilling of the Cathedrals’ modern stonework is the theme of John’s Revelation with sections showing the apocalypse including NYC engulfed by tidal waves and the Brooklyn Bridge cracked in half. The Twin Towers are also clearly shown.
What was St. John’s Revelation? St. John was the author of the biblical Book of the Revelation. To those who read this book, there is a promised blessing. What exactly is the blessing? One does not know except to perhaps make one wiser about reading the daily newspaper or remembering history.
St. John has a vision of things to come. When will these things come? No one knows. However, it may surprise some to know that The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine had stone carvers who knew this book and used their chisels to depict the accounts told by St. John as he was given his visions. One sculptured piece is surprising and chilling. ( See picture below)
It appears that the carvers also saw N.Y as being “Babylon the Great” spoken of in Revelation. This scene, carved on the west entrance of the cathedral, depicts New York as this city who gets completely destroyed by the wrath of God. The Book of Revelation mentions:
“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
Book of Revelation 18
Was it a warning? Do we write this because we believe that this is a real interpretation concerning New York’s future? No, but we do believe in the truth and authority in the holy scriptures. It could, however, be a warning of what could happen? We do not know. Biblical scholars for generations have tried to interpret the book of Revelation. If it is indeed a warning to the present and future generations, perhaps this is the blessing promised…that we be warned and should do as the scripture below tells us in order to spare us.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
In being healed as a nation, God has promised His divine healing to all believers.
VIDEO: click here THE STORY BEHIND ST. JOHN CATHEDRAL IN NEW YORK CITY
This writing will mark the beginning of a series that I call: FASCINATING PEOPLE AND PLACES
During my writings on Lent, you were able to hear the wonderful voices of King’s College choirs. You may also want to know some of the history of this chapel.
This beautiful chapel took hundreds of years to build. Kings College Chapel endured the murder of the King who proposed building it; civil war, and the bombs of World War II. During this last war, the stained glass was mostly removed to insure safety and give an opportunity to clean it. (That is, of course, if one was not busy running for a bomb shelter!)
When touring the Chapel, enlarge the screen and use your mouse to properly see every part, even the ceiling which has the largest stained glass in the world. You can also tour room by room when you click on the Navigate tab to do so. Enjoy!