Lessons in Paris

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I knew there would be a lot of churches. The guide book's "top ten" was full of them. I prepared myself for awe, for the magnitude of centuries-deep Christianity, older than anything I could ever see in my native land. 

Notre Dame

Notre Dame
Sainte Chapelle
Sacre-Coeur

The signs always read "Silence," when we entered, and people of all tongues obeyed. The soaring sanctuaries were cool and hushed. 

Reverence. Fear of the Lord. The smallness of man. These are concepts one can understand in places like these. 
St. Sulpice
Notre Dame
Sainte Chapelle
I wondered if all around me were Christians. I wondered, do they know the rest of the gospel story? Do they know that Jesus never lived like this? 

Notre Dame

Sacre-Coeur
Sainte Chapelle
Notre Dame
We wanted him to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We wanted him to be crowned in golden sanctuaries, secure on a throne illuminated by stained glass, and surrounded by respectful silence. Isn't that our idea of royalty, of a king? But Jesus never lived that way. 

St. Sulpice

St. Sulpice
In all the churches, I was torn by that dichotomy. God is great. He deserves our utmost and highest. These soaring buildings, they inspire and speak to His greatness. The world hushes inside, and people kneel to pray. And yet - 134 years to build? At what cost? What does this demonstration of vast wealth say about Christians? Where is Jesus in all of this? 
Or rather, would he ever be comfortable here? Where am I comfortable?

St. Sulpice

Notre Dame
Sainte Chapelle
Later, we sat outside at a cafe. A woman walked by, holding a baby on one hip and a cup outstretched in her other hand. She spoke a language I did not understand, but the cup is universal. Two children clung to her skirt. The baby smiled. She passed by too quickly for me to find coins in my travel bag. Like a good tourist, I kept my wealth secure, crossed over my body and zipped up tight. It suddenly felt so heavy. 
We finished, and as we walked back to our hotel I saw her again, sitting on the street with a man and the children. She was nursing the baby. I stopped, and unzipped the pouch in my bag. I gave her money, and she smiled.
The guide book advised against it, but the churches,
St. Sulpice
the churches told me to do it.


Linking with:
Thought Provoking Thursday @ intentional.me



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7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Lessons in Paris”

  1. This is beautiful - and not for the opulence, but for the humility in your words. Something to think about, indeed. Visiting today from Thought Provoking Thursday!

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  2. Great post. I hope you had a wonderful time - thanks for sharing all the photos! I also appreciated your thoughts.

    It's true that the buildings are beautiful. Great examples of art and what man can do with the talent that God gives him. But it's also true that my Savior grew up as the Son of the Most High God, as well as the son of a carpenter. He ate with the outcasts, He lived with fishermen, He was born in a barn. He is as comfortable in a manger as He is in a temple - may we remember to be as flexible and serve Him no matter where He places us in this world. 

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  3. beautiful photos and message.  One that will stick with me today.  What an opportunity you had.  wow

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  4. Hi Courtney, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog
    is.  Thanks so much for sharing.  I have recently found your blog and am now
    following you, and will visit often.  Please stop by my blog and perhaps you
    would like to follow me also.  Have a wonderful day.  Hugs,
    Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/ 

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  5. Hey there, found you over at Jen's ... Love Notre dame, it is pretty special. Isn't Paris beautiful and Breathtaking? Now following your blog, hope you can pop on over and check us out and follow along too :) ... http://heartsoulexchange.blogspot.com.au/

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  6. I appreciate your perspective. I can imagine I would have felt equally as torn between seeing the majesty of the buildings and the glory they reflect of God, yet wondering if Jesus would see it the same way. It's good for us to think about such things, even when we can't come up with a perfect answer.

    I love that you gave the money to the mother, even though it might not have been the "right" thing to do; it was certainly a loving thing to do, which is always right. 

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  7. Thanks, Lisa. You frame a great question with your last sentence: What is the loving thing to do? That is what should guide us, for that will be right. Super advice.

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