06 Dec 2007
A century ago Russian Orthodox Churches dominated the skyline of nearly every city, town and village of Russia. There were gleaming gold-plated domes and ornate towers in the big cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Following a similar theme, were other cities, ... from Minsk in Western Russia to Ufa in the East near the Ural Mountains. .... In the towns and villages, large gleaming white masonry structures appeared out of place among the small wooden houses. Throughout the country, these churches seemed to be an opulent display of religious power with little regard for the welfare of the populace.
Small chapels, ... often made of wood, ... were constructed near rivers or lakes; ... all with the characteristic Orthodox cross symbolizing Christ crucified on the top bar and the disposition of the two thieves represented by the lower slanted bar ... one end pointing upward to heaven and the other downward to hell.
Orthodox Christianity began to dominate Russian political and religious life in the year 988. This was when Prince Vladimir of Kiev was baptized and the great idol, Pernin, was torn down, tied up, and drug into the Dniper River. The next day most of the residents of Kiev were baptized. Orthodox Christianity was now, by decree, the official state religion.
Russian Orthodoxy grew rapidly throughout Russia for the next millennium. During this time, worship practices similar to their Byzantine origin, were established such as the icons identified as “Windows to Heaven”. These are always paintings since statues are not allowed. Also, there are no pews in the churches and music is entirely vocal. Musical instruments are considered to be inappropriate. Infant baptism is most often done by sprinkling. For those older, an immersion baptismal tank is available in some churches.
The Orthodox Church services are conducted amidst the glamorous splendor of gold and silver, but there is no religious teaching. The people do not know the Word of God and are captive to a life of fear and hopelessness ... no salvation, ... no eternity. They do not have the source of joy and life. It is a church without the Gospel.
After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the power of the Church was no more. ...Vladimir Lenin confiscated much of the Church treasures and real estate. ... The buildings decayed or were converted into museums. ... The priests were either shot or went into hiding. ... Church attendance dwindled significantly.
The 70 years of dictatorial communist rule in the Soviet Union nearly destroyed the Church. Its political, moral and spiritual influence was reduced to a mere skeleton of its former glory. The people became generally disillusioned with religion and apathetic toward spirituality.
Today, there has been some regrowth of the Orthodox Church and nearly all of the 110 million ethnic Russians, 80% of the population, claim the Orthodox faith. However, their attendance at the worship services may be only one or two times a year ... if at all. The Church has little influence on the people. Crime, corruption, alcohol abuse and decaying moral values continue to be major problems among the young as well as the old. Their lives are an empty spiritual shell ... with no signs of the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”-John 10:10
PRAY that the People will turn to JESUS.
Closing Song: The Savior is Waiting (first verse)
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