If you've been in church enough, you know the Apostles' Creed. Your mind knows the words, and today, I found that even without knowing the language, your heart knows the rhythm.
We visited The Cathedral of Notre Dame (Paris) this morning. Just as we were crossing the street, the famous bells tolled, calling the faithful to service. We entered thru the massive doors and took a row of seats near the back. In revered awe, my eyes could not help but look higher and higher into the ceilings above us, drawn to the architectural lines and the magnificent stained glass windows. Accompanied by singing, I saw the cross being carried into the nave and down the aisle to the pulpit. The priest waved incense thru the air and the service began. Now, let me note here that we are not Catholic, so this entire mass experience, aside from being in French, is new to us. We followed along, standing and sitting when everyone else did and watching as the priest served communion.
In the comforting sound of the French mass, I felt calmed enough to think about where we were and how we got there, not only on this particular Sunday morning, but in life in general. I reflected on how God has blessed our lives and covered us with grace. With my eyes resting on the curved lines of the ceiling, I imagined the hundreds of people that built this cathedral for praise and the thousands who have worshipped here. I marveled at the universality of faith in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
At some point in the service, the rhythm of the congregation's words felt familiar. And we fell in concert...
"who was conceived by the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead and buried. On the third day, He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven..."
After service, we found rows of candles lining the walls. Each candle the physical manifestation of someone's prayer. To me, each candle was a reminder of our own flickering, temporal existence in this great world. How much that light wavered and how long it lasted was not under our control, but God's, no matter how long we wanted it to burn. In that great cathedral of worship, I lit a candle and said a prayer. And then I left those hopes and worries in God's hands.