Cathedrals and Christ


This week, many are distraught over the news about the fires that have destroyed parts of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The art, history, and spirituality of this building is causing many to mourn and pray.

A while back, I was in New York City on vacation and I had a chance to visit many of the old beautiful churches in that city.  These were big stone Cathedrals built over a hundred years ago with high arching ceilings and stained glass windows and incredible stonework .  These structures would take your breath away as soon as you set foot inside, overwhelming you with their grandeur and beauty.   And while I haven’t personally been to Notre Dame in Paris I’m sure most people who tell me that the churches of New York pale in comparison to the Cathedral in Paris.

But we aren’t here to debate which city has the most beautiful structures. The fact remains that no matter what city it is, beautiful church buildings like these are immensely expensive to build and maintain. Notre Dame took over 200 years to complete! 200 years! When you start to consider the sheer effort that goes into creating and then maintaining structures like these, the obvious question becomes: why?  Why have communities, for hundreds of years, made the effort to build these grand, awe-inspiring, expensive structures?  

1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 

2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:1-4

Why do people build these huge ornate buildings? Why go to all the trouble and spend all the money? Why? I think the reason people build cathedrals like Notre Dame is because they are trying to express the holiness and majesty  of God. They are trying to make real for anyone who walks through the doors the power and glory of the God they know.

It’s impossible for us as human beings to ever fully capture the reality of God. Nothing we ever say, nothing we ever create, nothing we ever do could come close to fully expressing the greatness of God.

And yet just as people have been trying for thousands of years to communicate the greatness of God, in the same way, God has been trying since the beginning of time to communicate to us the greatness of His Love.

During this Holy Week, as we walk with Jesus during his last days, we must remember that the actions of Jesus were all meant to communicate to the world the greatness of God’s love. God sent Jesus to earth and to the cross so that we might more fully understand the extent of God’s love for us.

Beautiful music, beautiful sermons, and even beautiful church buildings will all fall short in communicating what Jesus revealed to us with his life, death, and resurrection and that is the greatness of God’s love for all the world.

Nate Preisinger