While traveling throughout Europe, it never fails that every city that you see will have a Cathedral that you must see. Out of all that I have seen thus far, St. Paul's in London, and the Cathedral in Koln, Germany have been far more than impressive.
What makes them impressive?
1. The immense structure that can only be compared to as skyscrapers in any US city.
2. The front doors are massive, decorated with brass/iron/gold biblical depictions.
3. Interior, just huge weighty columns that make you question what earthly being could construct.
4. Decorations beyond your wildest imaginations: paintings, wood carvings, golden everything, mosaic floors.
5. Figurines everywhere. Bishops/Mary/Jesus/Apostles.
I am not Catholic. (Thus, 'reformed'). I have a different feeling every time I enter a Cathedral. I ask questions like. Here are some of my contemporary protests:
1. Who paid for this?
2. Does that incredible painting, statue, sculpture, golden crucifix ...do anything for anyone?
3. Why do so many of these cathedrals have so many horrific depictions on Jesus on a Cross, that would almost make you gag? (Especially, a Cathedral in Toluca, Mexico)
4. Did some who got an 'indulgence' in 1513 really help pay for this?
Now, I get back in my car and head back the hotel, and we stop at a local wood-carving spot just south of Garmisch. As I enter it, my stomach turns at the 100's of crucifixes and nativities that decorate the room. So, here is my question. Francis of Assisi in 1223, gave us the first 'live' nativity...which later became what we have in our houses. Puritans refused to have such, 'graven images' in their homes. Puritans even band certain traditions in England that would center around a 'Jesus' baby figurine, calling it 'idolatry'. So, what are we doing with our nativities. As Protestants are we trulying showing hyprocrisy by criticizing Catholics for their idols, while we wrap up baby Jesus extra careful this year, or make sure everyone sees our 'lovely nativity scene'. Are we hoping that the Gospel is seen in our figurines this Christmas and not our lives? May we present the Cross of Christ in our daily living. May our nativities be more of a vehicle where by we discuss our beliefs, and not something else.
Grant us more than wood and ceramic to save our souls.
Give me the Risen Christ, to put my head on his chest and hear his breath, and feel the warmth of the His hand against my head, and to hear him say in a deep resonating voice made by vocal chords, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."