Saturday, March 25, 2017

Guiding Light

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

-- 1 John 1:5-7

If you're ever visiting Helsinki, Finland, be sure to check out Suomenlinna Church, one of the first landmarks that greets travelers arriving in the city by sea. This remarkable house of worship was built in 1854 for the Russian troops garrisoned at the nearby fortress. Its designer was Konstantin Thon, who was also the architect of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

Converted in the 1920's from a Lighthouse ChurchRussian Orthodox Church to an Evangelical Lutheran Church, this impressive structure is today a popular site for weddings. What's more, Suomenlinna doubles as an operating lighthouse. Its beacon blinks the Morse code letter "H" to alert mariners that they've reached the Finnish capital.

Suomenlinna Church's dual role is biblically significant. First, it reflects Jesus' admonition recorded in Matthew's Gospel to illuminate the world with God's hope:

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Second, Suomenlinna's beacon serves as a guide--both to sailors seeking safe anchorage--and to less-than-perfect people who are seeking hope and salvation. It's also a reminder that life's voyage is treacherous. And that's why it's so wonderful to know that this welcoming light points the way to Jesus Christ. He invites us to follow him and help build his kingdom--and all while illuminating his truth and giving comfort to those who live in darkness.

"I chose you to bring justice, and I am here at your side," he reminds us through the Book of Isaiah. "I selected and sent you to bring light and my promise of hope to the nations."

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