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.