Not a building but a people1
On a bank above the Moscow river stands the imposing structure of the Kremlin. While open to the public, few American’s have explored its grounds. The center of Russian government sits inside its walls, bulwarks that protect the palace of the president, the supreme soviet and the duma – the people’s congress.
Sitting at the heart of these centers of power and guarded by the Czar’s Cannon is the Cathedral of the Assumption. Built between 1475-1479, it is the mother church of Russia. Ivan the Terrible was crowned here, as were the czars and patriarchs of Russia. Throughout its history, its lavish paintings and icons crowned with gold and silver governed the cathedral’s majestic interior.
Moscow is cold. Locals jest that Moscow has five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and Russian winter. Because of the harsh winters, the cathedral has served as a warm passageway between the halls of congress and the presidential palace. During the Cuban missile crisis, leaders passed through the cathedral, keeping warm while on their way to challenge the fate of the free world. It passed diplomats through its sanctuary to plan the Afghan war; it sheltered Russian leaders in their attempts to support dictators in Iraq and Syria, and to plan the invasion of Crimea.
Tell me, what influence has this church?
The measure of a church is not in its architecture nor its artistic majesty. We don’t measure the influence of a church by its gold and silver, or by its art or icons. A church is not a building; it is a people. A church is powerful when it renews people’s faith, when it transforms whole societies by the grace and truth of its adherents. Lord, help us to be a community of grace and truth