Rise and Shine - May 5
SPIRITUALITY AND MATERIALISM – HOW SHOULD THE CHURCH ALLOCATE RESOURCES
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
Rise & Shine, May 5th
1 Kings 8:12-13, 27
Then Solomon said, "The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever. ... But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!" (For context, read 8:12-13, 27-30.)
In the News
World Responds to Notre Dame Cathedral Holy Week Fire
Shortly after the last visitor left the premises of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, on April 15, fire broke out beneath the 856-year-old wooden roof called "the forest." Before some 400 firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control, the roof and iconic spire had collapsed. There were no casualties and numerous works of art and other treasures were evacuated early in the emergency; nevertheless, many other masterpieces were damaged or destroyed.
Over the years, Notre Dame has survived the Hundred Years' War, the French Revolution and two world wars. It has been the site of coronations, and houses precious artwork and irreplaceable religious relics, and is visited by approximately 13 million tourists each year.
French president, Emmanuel Macron, promised that Notre Dame, "our history, our literature, our imagination … the epicenter of our lives," would be restored. The outpouring of grief from around the world when Notre Dame erupted into flames quickly turned into a resolve to rebuild — and within three days crowdfunding efforts to help repair the damage had surpassed the $1 billion mark.
The swift desire to save this apex of French culture brought mixed reactions. Some wondered why wealth was so readily available for this purpose, and so scarce for other worthy causes, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, protecting Native American sacred lands, rebuilding black Louisiana churches that were targeted by an arsonist, fighting climate change, or providing more support for poor French people. In contrast to the Notre Dame tragedy, the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka happened less than a week later and, to date, no significant crowd funding effort has taken place to aid the families or congregations that lost lives in the act of terror.
In his opinion piece for The American Spectator, John Glynn asked “hundreds of people died in Sri Lanka — people, not things. Why are so many quick to lament the loss of a building but not the loss of life?” Carl Kinsella, of the Irish news outlet Joe.ie, added, "Brick and mortar and stained glass might burn, but they do not bleed, and they do not starve, and they do not suffer. Humans suffer. Everywhere in the world, from Paris to Persepolis, people are suffering. But their suffering is every day. It does not light up a front page, and it does not inspire immediate donations from the world's wealthiest men."
But art critic Ben Davis doesn't see the question as an either/or binary choice. "You can want to see Notre Dame rebuilt and be disgusted by the contrast between the ease of fundraising for the Paris landmark and the difficulty in getting money to all the many humanitarian crises raging around the world," he wrote.
Many people underscore the importance of landmarks, relics, and beauty within religious culture. "Notre Dame … commands you -- whether or not you answer -- to believe," wrote Jennifer Hope Choi, a staff writer for BuzzFeed News, adding that "holy places can urge us to access some buried sense of wonderment -- to stand in awe of an exquisite thing made to seem eternal."
Buildings, art, furniture, vestments… all things that cost money to procure, maintain, and hold onto. The Episcopal church, and many other denominations, value beauty within their worship. Beautiful things and spaces help us to express the awe and wonder that we feel when approaching God. However, the question remains, at what point does the material value of our things usurp the moral value of dedicating resources to people.
More on this story can be found at these links:
At Notre Dame, Good Friday Came Early. Christianity Today
Morality in the Age of Materialism.The American Spectator
Notre Dame Fire May Finally Awaken France's 'Zombie Catholics.' Crux
Yellow Vest Anger Burns in France, Fueled by Notre Dame Fire. PBS
Reaction of the Rich to the Notre Dame Fire Teaches Us a Lot About the World We Live In. Joe.ie
Here are some Bible verses and a question outline to guide our discussion:
Psalm 84:1-4, 10
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise. …
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness. (For context, read 84:1-12.)
The Jews then said to [Jesus], "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (For context, read 2:13-22.)
- What distinguishes worship in sacred places from worship of sacred spaces?
- What blessings and responsibilities accompany a place of worship that bears the name of the Lord?
- Do you think Redeemer does a good job of balancing our allocation of resources? If not, what needs to change to put this back into balance?
Prayer for the Right Use of God’s Gifts (BCP p.827)
Almighty God, whose loving hand has given us all that we
possess: Grant us grace that we may honor you with our
substance, and, remembering the account which we must one
day give, may be faithful stewards of your bounty, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.