On December 17th, 2010, the Provo Tabernacle, which had served as a gathering place for over 115 years, was destroyed in a fire. As a Provo resident for all of my adult life, I was saddened by its loss. I attended stake conference in that building. My husband graduated there. He and I sung in a choir that performed in that building, and we attended several community functions there, including our first date after our engagement in 1997. And now the building was empty, its stained glass shattered and its remaining walls covered with soot.
Then, in October of 2011, my family took a collective gasp along with so many others when it was announced that the Provo Tabernacle would become a temple. It was an unbelievable gift and a day of rejoicing.
As the long and laborious process of temple-building began, many people began to see the fire as symbolic of the Lord at work in our lives. As Linda Reeves stated in 2013, “Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”
Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.
My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.”
On March 20th, 2016, the Provo City Center Temple was dedicated. That night, I visited the building with two of my children and my camera. The sunset that night was especially stunning and I captured this beautiful temple, framed by the ribbons of color in the sky and reflected into a pool. This Sunday of dedication, for me, was a day of rejoicing and pondering on the scripture that God will “give unto them beauty for ashes.” (Isaiah 61:3)
We each have our difficult days of devastation, loss, and heartache, our days of feeling like a shell of our former selves, days when we feel to give up hope. But because of the resurrection and Atonement of Christ, we also have the knowledge that all will be made right, that God can rebuild our lives and our hearts, and we can be made new.
As Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”
I have titled this photograph “Sunday will come” because in my life I have experienced both the Fridays of loss and the Sundays of renewal and rejoicing. In the waters of the reflecting pool, I have overlaid images of the burned-out tabernacle I took years before, never imagining at that time what this destroyed building would become. I find hope and joy in this photograph, and I hope you do as well.
~ Christina Bartholomew, March 20th, 2016
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Included are two copies. One is a digital art piece with an overlay of the original tabernacle after the fire and the words "Sunday will Come" and the other is the photo before the additions.