A View From The Vicarage - May
Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen
As I write this; we are in the middle of yet another Holy Week, preparing to accompany Christ in his passion and death. This year we are making that sombre pilgrimage against the backdrop of the continuing uncertainty over the UK’s future relationship with the European Union; while our television and other screens are full of the significant damage suffered by Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following a devastating fire.
Damage to much loved and valued buildings and structures are always and inevitably occasions of considerable soul searching and deep anxiety. Buildings and structures which have always been part of the fabric of our lives provide security and permanence amidst the shifting sands of the world.
It is worth remembering, however, that iconic buildings in common with equally precious structures and organisations are organic creations. Yes a great cathedral like Notre Dame or St. Pauls or even Hereford and our own Parish Churches seem to possess an aura of permanence and immutability. That, however, is only a very superficial veneer. Our churches, cathedrals, parliamentary and democratic institutions have undergone countless attempts at rebuilding, re-ordering, rearranging as each new generation adapts it to it’s own use. All of our iconic buildings, organisations and structures are the product of centuries of change, of restoration and even, on occasion, of neglect. Permanence is in the main illusary yet outwardly and superficially nothing much may seem to have changed but peer beneath the surface and that process of change, renewal, alteration and adaptation can be seen down the centuries.
The skill for those who will be charged with the immense task of restoring Notre Dame, is how much do they slavishly copy what was there before and how much do they restore it for the 21st Century and beyond? The crucial test is to decide what must be preserved and what can and maybe should be discarded. The same applies to the liturgy and worship that the church offers day by day, week by week and month by month. It behoves us to regularly review what worship we offer and how, because the purpose of worship like the purpose of any church building from the smallest to the grandest is to welcome every person to lift their eyes above the mundane and everyday and gaze into the face of God to whose glory it was built. Standing above the devastation of the Notre Dame is the great cross behind the Altar which proclaims silently but definitely. Christ has died. Chris is risen. Christ will come again.
I’m sure a new and better Notre Dame will emerge from the ashes, a reminder of Christ’s resurrection and also his coming again. Alleluia to that.
With my love and prayers as always.