Notre-Dame: the cross still stands

Smoke rises around the altar in Notre-Dame above which a cross still hangs in tact(Photo: Reuters)

Hope amid the rubble: surrounded by damage, devastation and the broken hearts of a nation, a cross remains standing and unscathed in Notre-Dame, Paris.

What a symbol for Holy Week. On Good Friday we will remember how Christ on the cross was entering the mess, pain and suffering of humanity - coming alongside us in the heat of our suffering, in the heart of our darkness, in the rubble of our shattered aspirations.

Here, in Paris, in the blackest night, in the fiery furnace, as countless numbers stood and wept, the cross still stands. And so too in our darkest times, in our deepest trials, as we weep in perplexity and pain, the cross still stands for us also.

This is no absent God offering abstract algorithms to account for the human condition. This is a God who in Christ comes to us, enters into the pain and suffering of our humanity and tells us, gently, that while we may not understand all that life throws at us, He is here with us.

And while the great schemes of human architecture may, even for many generations, rise proudly into the sky displaying human hopes and aspirations, ultimately each in its time will fall. The story of Babel will be repeated in an endless cycle until we learn that there is something bigger that matters more.

What is the most important thing in life? Our plans? Our buildings? Our grand ambitions? Or the persistent call of a loving God who comes to us in Christ, suffers and dies with us and says, "Come... Come and find life in all its fulness. Die to self and live life to the full. Set aside your human dreams and aspirations and be reconciled to me so that you may flourish as you were intended to."

See the cross in Notre Dame. See its presence amid the rubble of human beauty as a picture of our earthly condition. All our dreams and hopes will ultimately crumble and collapse too, the inevitable result of our natural sin and selfishness. But God does not leave us in the mess in which we find ourselves. He comes, surprisingly, unexpectedly, humbly, challengingly, in a cross, and says, "Turn around. Wake up. Arise from the futile pursuit of what will turn to dust and find what you were made for truly."

Look to the cross.