A month ago, I attended a service at Notre Dame Cathedral in the centre of Paris, and admired its beauty and 850 year history. This week, along with millions across the world, I watched with horror as flames devoured the roof and wooden spire of that holy and iconic building. Residents of Paris wept openly in the streets as they gazed across the River Seine to the burning symbol of their city.
It will have reminded some of the fire in our own Peterborough Cathedral 18 years ago.
On Monday night, a visibly shaken French President Emmanuel Macron said: “Notre Dame will rise again”. It was a remarkable choice of words from a secular political leader in Holy Week, as Christians remember that Jesus did indeed rise again on the first Easter morning.
A number of commentators have expressed the hope that the new Notre Dame will still be a living building in another 850 years. Christians rejoice that the resurrected Jesus is alive today after 2,000 years. He is living proof that tragedy, death and destruction are never the last word. With God, there is hope and new life and a future.
Recently, someone told me they wanted to be a Christian because they wanted to share God’s new life. As we pray for the people of Paris and the resurrection of Notre Dame, let us also pray that we too can share that new life.
With my prayers and best wishes for a very Happy Easter,
Bishop of Brixworth