April 19, 2019 | by Gregg DeMey
I grew up attending an annual Good Friday service at my family’s home church.
My first, childish impression was that Good Friday was one time that church was scary.
It took me a number of years of nervously sitting through these dark, contemplative services to understand the deeper “good” that was being referred to. My childish self couldn’t yet comprehend how God could take the brutal events of the worst day ever and transform them into the greatest good possible: salvation! Good Friday is a God story.
The Monday of Holy Week 2019 was also a doozy of day. Many of us have seen images of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on fire. This tragic fire is already being perceived as a powerful symbol or parable of our current age. At least one of the questions that occurs to me is this: “If even our greatest achievements are destined for destruction, why bother doing what I’m doing?” Or to make it more personal, “Does my job, contributions, achievements or school work really matter in the long run?”
On the one hand, Notre Dame is just a building. It is a glorious church, but it is not the church. God doesn’t need great art or architecture to prop up his ego or buoy his identity. God is the great I AM. Similarly, God’s eternal purposes don’t depend on the quality of our work production, the results of our annual review, or our final GPA. I hope this sounds like a happy thought.
No pressure: the world doesn’t depend on your results!
On the other hand, Notre Dame is emblematic of what is possible when we humans turn our attention toward God and cooperate well with one another. Notre Dame took centuries to design and build. Millions upon millions of people have been blessed by her beauty and benefited by the worship she inspired. Similarly, when our labors are located within God’s bigger purpose to so-love-the-world, our parenting, professional, and academic achievements all take on great significance as necessary stones in the great building of God’s Kingdom. What you are currently working on matters very much in God’s economy of things!
We don’t know what will become of Notre Dame moving forward. Will the Bad Monday of this Holy Week ultimately be redeemed? President Macron of France has vowed to rebuild within five years. Large sums of money have already been donated. Perhaps there will be a redemption story that emerges from the ashes. Perhaps it will become a God story.
God stories are two-part stories that begin with human pain, loss or failure, but then get surprisingly reversed, reclaimed, and redeemed by the Spirit of God. Today, Good Friday, part one of the ultimate God story will be retold. If you aren’t able to participate in a worship service today (Elmhurst CRC’s is at 7 p.m.), I commend to you a personal reading of Luke 23 as a way of helping you walk with Jesus through the first part of God’s best story.
We’ll hold off on part two until Sunday morning.
Blessings to you as you walk with Jesus every step of the way,