4/21/19 – EASTER DAY – 10:55 am

Posted on : Apr 18th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

My heart was heavy with grief Monday, as I received the news that Notre Dame Cathedral was on fire.  Not only was it on fire, it was being consumed by a raging inferno.  Due to the size and location of the Cathedral, it was very difficult to get fire apparatus up to the roof of the Cathedral, where the fire was raging.  It looked for certain that the entire Cathedral was going to be destroyed.

I’ve been in Notre Dame Cathedral three times.  Once, to tour it.  Once, for an organ concert and once, for Sunday worship/mass.  It is among those few places on earth where one experiences stunning beauty, tranquility and transcendence all at once.  Transcendence is a word that describes a spiritual connection with God that transcends the physical limits of our bodies.  Philip Newell in his book, Listening for the Heartbeat of God, refers to such experiences as the “thin places” in life, places where the divine and human, where heaven and earth come so close together that one can pass from one to the other without even knowing you have done so.  That’s the kind of place Notre Dame is.

The Cathedral is a magnificent spiritual place, even for non-Christians.  It’s art, it’s stained glass windows, and its sheer magnitude, are overwhelming.  The organ is one of the greatest French Romantic instruments in the world.  Once you’ve heard it, you can never forget its sound.  Throughout European and Western history, its organists have been among the greatest organists ever.  If you’d like to see or hear the organ, click on the link to hear the fifth and final movement of Charles-Marie Widor’s Fifth Symphony for Organ in F Major, the very famous Toccata. The organist is Olivier Latry, one of three organists at Notre Dame de Paris.  This is the postlude most highly skilled organists will play on Easter Day.

As I watched the fire and smoke billowing from the cathedral, I was sure the entire place was going to be consumed by fire.  The sense of loss was overwhelming.

This of course, all happened on Monday of Holy Week.

There was no irony spared that what I, and the world experienced that day, were the same feelings the disciples had at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Mary, Peter and the beloved disciple stood at the tomb consumed by grief and fear.   They had lost one they loved dearly.  They had lost the one who brought heaven and earth close together.  They had lost the one that created “thin places” in their lives where the Divine and human crossed over seamlessly.  Yet, while consumed by their sense of loss, they discovered new life.  They discovered that the promises of Jesus were still alive.  They discovered that it was time to rebuild something new.  They discovered the living presence of Christ in their lives in a new and profoundly powerful way.

And so it is for us this Easter and every Easter, we are invited to find hope and new life in the midst of loss and tragedy in life.

Easter Blessings to you and those you love,


John 20: 1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

Now, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 

Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  The angels said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned and responded in Hebrew, “Rabbi!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Christ”; and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.


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