At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.
~ Matthew 27:51
For the past two years I have spent time with a faith community that three years ago experienced a fire in their sanctuary. The fire was started by an arsonist. For this faith community, as they stood out in the parking lot, looking at the burned out building, they realized that the church was still present. It was the people standing outside the building, looking, and asking, "What next?"
Like the initial pictures we are seeing from the burned out cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris this morning, there in the darkness, there still stands the cross.
Three predominately black churches were burned in the last few weeks, as flames devoured the buildings, we all were reminded that Christ is not the building, but are the people who are the instruments by which God is known.
If there is anything that Lent teaches us, it is this truth; Lent is about change.
We are reminded that Jesus challenged those who had become comfortable and complacent in their religion, and in their worship of God. He turns over the money changers tables, and warns that this house was to be "a place of prayer, not a den of thieves."
At the moment of Jesus' death, the veil in the temple is torn in two, the earth shakes and the rocks split. The world is changed as Jesus declares, "It is finished."
As his body, broken, and now dead is lowered to the ground, the cross still remains. The people look and watch, in shock. The disciples, many of whom have left his side for the safety of the shadows, begin to gather in another place, while his body is quickly moved to a tomb as the sun begins to set in the west. The cross remains, even in the final moments of the light of the day that continues to overcome complete darkness, the cross casts a long, dark shadow.
This morning we awaken, the architectural skeleton in Paris pierces the sky, and a cross is still present. In Louisiana black hands dig through ashes, discovering a cross that once stood on the altar where people gathered to pray.
We have been changed. We have experienced the fire, and have known loss. The tomb appears to be dark, but wait... the cross...
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.