August 27, 2018
The following is a short speech I shared with the members of my church on Sunday:
Recently, I was in Northern Europe, and as always I visited churches and came back with some thoughts I would like to share about people who are in need of our prayers.
Two of the places I visited were Tallinn, Estonia, and St. Petersburg, Russia. The people of Estonia gained their independence once in 1918 and again in 1991 at the end of the Soviet Union. They celebrate freedom strongly. Their churches are increasing in attendance, and among those I talked to, their faith is strong. I am reminded of John 8: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
The other place was St. Petersburg, with quite a different situation but one with hope, nevertheless. In 1861 the beloved Tsar Alexander I ended serfdom in Russia. The common people rejoiced at being able to own their own land and end their poverty. The Tsar was killed by hired assassins on the street in the middle of St. Petersburg. The people who loved him, including many who were wealthy, built a church called The Church on the Spilled Blood in the Tsar’s honor on the spot where he was killed. It is one of the most beautiful churches you could ever hope to see, fashioned in multicolored stone and tile both inside and out.
Unfortunately, since the time of the Soviets, both The Church on the Spilled Blood and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, he largest cathedral in the world, are museums. I was appalled at the idea of a church built by the people to honor a leader of great faith being a museum.
I ask your prayers for these people. For the faithful of Estonia, that their faith and freedom will continue to be a source of strength throughout their country. And for the faithful in St Petersburg and all of Russia, that their faith and numbers will grow and that someday The Church on the Spilled Blood will be a true church again.