More than a Metaphor
There have been fires in Paris for months now as every weekend the Gilets Jaunes protest the failings of the state. France, the proud republic, totters on the edge of financial and political chaos, presided over by a peacock president who promised so much but has delivered so little. The flames of Notre Dame speak of the larger crises engulfing the nation.
Or we could see it in more spiritual terms – that the burning of the cathedral is a metaphor for the hollowing out of Christianity in Europe in general, and in France in particular. The rise of secularism and the attendant rise of skyscrapers of commerce across European capitals seem to make ancient beliefs and ancient buildings redundant.
More hopefully, in the commitments already made to see Notre Dame rise again, we might detect the story of resurrection being told once more. How poignant that Notre Dame should burn in Easter week.
There is probably a measure of truth in all these metaphors: France is experiencing a measure of chaos that in many ways makes our British Brexit woes seem rather insignificant; Europe has largely abandoned faith in God for faith in finance and institutions; and – yes – there will be resurrection.
This Good Friday followers of Jesus are reminded that the events of Easter are not mere metaphor. The death and resurrection of Jesus are historical events with universal impact. The Cross is the pivot point of history and the hope of the world. At the Cross Jesus experienced de-creation in order to turn chaos to cosmos – from the mess of our sin to an orderly, harmonious, whole. He is the faithful servant who is building us into God’s house – like living stones we are being built into a spiritual house. The kingdom of God is breaking out and will fill the whole earth and Jesus will receive his inheritance.
All other empires, kingdoms and republics will fall. All power structures and physical structures have their day. But Christ will reign forever: death has been swallowed up in victory!
So this Easter we again join with all the saints in all the ages in all the world and say, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ is coming again!