Posted by: Terry | September 12, 2015

Genoa Cathedral, reminders of God and his Glory

IMG_1658The Cathedral of Saint Lorenzo, also known as Genoa Cathedral, was founded in the 5th or 6th century. The present façade is as it was in the 17th century. Whatever the motives of the builders, it stands today as a monument to God’s interactions with his world.

These grand cathedrals never fail to move me to worship. David wrote in the Psalms that reflecting on God and all he has done is the heart of adoration and worship, and whichever direction you look in these wonderful places you are reminded of the greatness of God and his involvement in the world. At least for me reflection and prayer is unavoidable.

As I sat for a time in the cathedral, and then at a café in the Plaza in front of it, I was reminded that sadly people and organizations have detracted from and tarnished the simple truth that God is at the center of it all.

When I meet people who have “left the church”, whether they be Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, or Evangelical churches, it is most often the church they talk about leaving not God. There was some flaw, some injustice, some selfishness, inadequacy, etc. that caused them to leave. Even the few, who claim to leave because of God, usually connect their disappointment with God to the people who are his followers and ministers.

I assume there are those who would be critical of the Cathedral of Saint Lorenzo because it was built with revenue generated from the successful shipping enterprises in Genoa at the time of the Crusades. Yet regardless of a person’s perspective on how it was funded you would be hard pressed to dismiss the structure and its decor as a testimony to God, therein is the mystery of the church.IMG_1648

Churches and Christianity are collections of people who are flawed, unjust, selfish, inadequate, and often quite evil, yet they are the raison d’êtrea the church exists. And amazingly God has done wonderful works through the church, weak as it is.

Jesus said the “gates of hell would not prevail” against his church. Thankfully the most vicious attempts to destroy her, and the most incompetent and selfish administrations of her have all failed. For every tragic tale of the churches failure there are a thousand individual lights that shine in the darkness.

In the end, I can go into a cathedral and embrace its beauty and the reminders of the important truths and events of history, and be reminded of what is important, why God is still central in my life. Debates about doctrines, failures of leaders, oppression of those in opposition, and the hypocrisy of followers, have never driven me to pray. But meditating on the wonder that God still reaches out to me and loves me, in spite of me, does compel me to worship.

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Responses

  1. This is a thoughtful, honest, and intelligent response to the human inability to understand God, and a compassionate prayer for us all. I have a similar response in any church/synagogue/temple. These beautiful buildings are the physical manifestation of our love for God, and express what we so often fail to say through our actions.


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