Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Monday, as I was reading and reflecting for this Holy Week, I happened to glance at the TV and saw the horrific fire in Paris. Flames quickly engulfed the iconic church, Notre Dame, as millions around the world watched in disbelief. The steeple collapsed and fire consumed much of the hand-made stained glass and artifacts. I learned that over 52 acres of trees were cut and shaped into beams and planks that have stood for nearly 800 years. It is no wonder the fire was so intense.
Though it will take years, there is hope that the church will be rebuilt. This event has united, in both grief and a commitment to generosity, everyone from committed Christians to casual tourists to avowed secularists. What a unique moment! But it didn’t end there. In a most amazing, and perhaps providential, way, the tragedy that struck one of the world’s great cathedrals also led many to give to restore three historic, black churches recently burned in Louisiana.
Donations to the Louisiana churches have sky rocketed over the last few days, in large part due to the increased news coverage, awareness, and care generated because of the Notre Dame fire. The situations are, of course, not equivalent. There is a vast difference between alleged hate crimes and an accident, and few buildings in the world can compare to Notre Dame. Nevertheless, it has been encouraging to see compassion go viral and bring hope to each community. Pray with me that the Lord will use these events to spark healing and fresh revival in both Europe and North America.
The truth is that the Lord always rebuilds His Church. It is true everywhere.
We should remember this life-changing truth straight from the Gospel itself because it applies in the life of every believer, congregation, diocese, and province. Jesus promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church. In this hope, we have entered Holy Week.
Jesus was not speaking about buildings, of course. Buildings are not the church. Jesus was calling upon those who confess that He is the Son of God to be the Church. He was saying, “Take notice: the powers of darkness, the gates of hell, the pressures of an evil world will never silence the people and the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God.”
This is our common mission in the Anglican Church in North America. It remains clear no matter what we may face or what may face us!
As you walk through this Holy Season, please keep this in mind. Our mission is unchanged: to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed Holy Week and a glorious Easter.
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America