Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Stones Cry Out

Small portion of Last Supper mosaic in St. Isaac's Cathedral
During his final week on earth, Christ entered Jerusalem as a King - riding on a donkey! This graphic and unexpected entry enraged the ‘powers that be,’ particularly the religious leaders. Here was a man, a miracle-working man, who spoke with authority and had a large following, entering their territory, with humility and riding on a donkey. It was too much! They were beside themselves when the people bought into the narrative and shouted out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They urged Jesus to tell his followers to shut up! But Jesus replied, “If they keep quite, the stones will cry out.” How can an inanimate aggregate of minerals cry out? How can the ‘stones’ reflect God’s glory?

In 1985 we visited Russia, then under the sway of Marxist-Leninist atheistic philosophy. Most of the churches had either been closed, or were used for storage or as museums. One of the most beautiful churches in all of Russia, St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, was open as a tourist attraction. A Foucault Pendulum had been hung from the highest point of its dome and the church was being used to show the superiority of science, the god of the Soviet Union. While foreign tourists stood in the center of the church, watching the swinging ball, local Russians stared at the cathedral’s walls. On its walls were the most exquisite mosaics I have ever seen, depicting scenes from the Bible. In those days, it was impossible to find a Bible in Soviet Russia, so this was the only ‘bible’ the people had. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, the atheistic leaders of Soviet Russia miscalculated when trying to suppress God’s glory - and the stones were crying out. 
St. Isaac's Cathedral; painting by Surikov

Stones or ‘lithos’ (Greek) have two characteristics which make them wonderful symbols. First they are long-lasting, almost eternal when viewed from our short life span. Second, they are firm or steady and represent a solid foundation. Jesus told a story about a wise man who built his life on ‘the rock.’ Jesus is represented in the Bible as the ‘stone which the builders rejected,’ but those who build their life on him have an eternal, firm foundation and cannot be shaken. “I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” Isaiah 28:16 

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