For those of you who know a little Russian language, you know that that word ‘remont’ strikes an anxious note of fear and hope in the heart of a person. ‘Remont’ means repair, remodeling, etc. We have been doing some much needed remont in our apartment. The tiles were literally falling off the wall in our tub room and the bathroom floor tile was in pretty bad shape too. So we called our friends for a recommendation and a tile repair guy came. The hope part of remont is how its going to look when its done. The fear part of remont is the amount of damage that will have to be done before that. And did he make a mess. Oh well, its done and both rooms are completely different, liveable you might say.
We are preparing for some traveling. I (Mark) and the younger kids are going to be participating in the handicapped camp that our church is sponsoring as a part of our regular ministry to the disabled. Anna, our oldest, will be going to another children’s camp as a helper. Both of these camps will be opportunities for evangelism and encouragement, so please pray for us. Donna will be returning briefly to the States to help her father celebrate his 70th birthday. We are grateful to other family members for making this possible. It was going to be a surprise, but the cat is now out of the bag. It still is great and both Donna and her dad are very excited.
Just yesterday Donna, Anna, Abigail and I went to the Lavra. The Lavra is a large Orthodox church complex with many churches, a seminary, and the caves where monks from of old are buried. We got to a certain point and found a very long line. We wondered what was going on so we went to the front. It was still not clear until we saw a sign on a door. Apparantly, a piece of the wooden cross on which Jesus died had been brought from Jerusalem to visit Kiev and the Lavra. And people were lined up to see it.
We were amazed at the veneration of a relic, and we talked about this with Anna. We remembered how Martin Luther had fought against relic collection and veneration. There was no way of course to know whether this piece of wood (which we did not stand in line to see) was part of the cross, but one is suspicious because of the amount of wood across Europe and probably the world which is claimed to be a part of the cross.
But even if it were part of the real cross, it wouldn’t matter. The greatest sign of the cross today is not a piece of wood, but changed lives. We pray that as these camps go on, that God would show the power of the cross in our lives. We know that just as we needed remont in our apartment, we need remont in our lives. Please pray for us that the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings would be evident in the way we relate to others.