Monday, June 24, 2024

Faith Matters: Taking a ‘power’ trip, spiritual journey in Europe

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“Break Every Chain” could very well be the theme of my recent European trip.

From studying the hidden churches in Amsterdam, getting a glimpse of the Church of Our Lady Chapel in Brussels to experiencing powerful worship at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the trip offered a sense of spiritual reflection and purpose.

The more sites I visited, the more cultures I experienced, and the more people interacted with, the stronger my awareness of the greatness and vastness of God became.

That overpowering feeling of God’s divine presence first manifested ever so powerfully during my visit to the Louvre in Paris, which dates back to the 1200s and became a museum in 1793. Its amazing artworks from the 7th millennium BC to the 1850s are displayed on the museum’s incredible five levels.

As thrilled as I was to finally view Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” it was the myriad depictions of Christ on the cross that left me absolutely astounded and overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of all humankind.

Among the compelling paintings was the “Christ on Cross, with Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary at his Feet” by France’s Pierre-Paul Prud’hon from 1823. The description read in part: “The artist heightens the dramatic impact of Christ’s martyrdom with striking contrasts of lights and shade.”

From the Louvre, my seemingly spiritual journey moved to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous early Gothic cathedral built in 1163-1257. The cathedral is undergoing reconstruction after sustaining serious damage from an April 15, 2019, fire. Officials hope to have the cathedral complete by next year’s Summer Olympics.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame is still a prominent place of worship. That was evident one evening when a group of youth musicians led praise and worship as hundreds of viewers looked on from the grandstands and many others joined in.

The highlight was the youth’s rendition of “Break Every Chain,” the song made popular in 2013 by Gospel artist Tasha Cobbs. The youth sang it so joyfully in French. It was real. It was inspiring. And it glorified a risen Christ. Lyrics include: “There is power in the name of Jesus. To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”

One youth shared: “We just sharing the love of Jesus.”

The song, the young man’s conviction and experiencing more of God’s wide world helped reveal purpose to my trip. It was meant to be a birthday trip and a celebration of 33 years of marriage. But it was much more. It was fun, educational — and spiritual.

“Break Every Chain” speaks to the freedom that faith in Christ offers and the freedom we still enjoy in this country to serve him. It also renewed my belief that there’s power in the name of Jesus to break every chain; heal every wound, sickness and addiction; unite people of all nations, denominations, races, ethnicities and political affiliations; teach us patience and tolerance; and bring love where there is hate.

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