It is a well-known fact that the nations of Scandinavia and the Baltics are becoming rapidly secular with relatively little practice of religion. Estonia is second only to Czech Republic in terms of the number of people who claim no religious faith at all and in these nations the percentage of folks who attend worship regularily is in the single digits. Yesterday we worshiped in the main cathedral of Stockholm with only a couple hundred people at most. In some of these countries the oppression of Communism and the active persecution of the church has left itwith only a faithful remnant bearing witness.
And yet, you can’t ignore the traces of the saints who planted Christianity here a millennium ago. You can see the footprints of those who carried the Gospel and built these incredible churches to the glory of God. Agreed, sometimes it was melded with political power, kings and kingdoms of this world who used the church to expand their control and exert their will. That is what happens when you wrap the cross in the flag…even in America, even today. But even so, the signs and symbols, the art and architecture all point to a higher Kingdom and to The Christ who is Lord of all. Even in Russia, all the forces of the Soviet era could not entirely remove the traces of Christianity which are so deeply rooted in the culture, soil and soul of the nation.
One of my favorite saints is St. Christopher who carried the Christ Child on his shoulder. This statue of St. Christopher comes from the church in Wardemunde, Germany. May a new generation of Christophers, Christ-bearers, follow the traces and footsteps til, as the hymn says “all the world adore His name.”