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A Pretty Neat Trick

    The rooster on the church steeple is one of the most common symbols in Latvia. Often found on the weather vanes atop Protestant churches there, it is said to be a reminder of God’s grace to Peter, who was forgiven and restored after denying the Savior. This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times (Matthew 26).

    Lutheranism in Latvia dates back to the days of the Reformation. Sadly, the Church was persecuted severely both by the Nazi and Communist regimes (1939-1989). In fact, the Soviets repurposed a much-loved Riga church into a secular concert hall. The pews were removed and replaced with a new seating system which faced away from the altar area and toward the pipe organ in the balcony above the main entrance.

    When the Soviets finally withdrew, the church resumed its rightful place in Riga’s religious life. But what about the seats now facing the wrong direction? Here’s the story I was told: the carpenter who crafted the new pews anticipated the day when this house of worship would regain its original, spiritual purpose. A slight adjustment allowed for the seat’s backrest to be pushed in reverse, changing the seat’s orientation toward the altar again – a pretty neat trick!

    The restoration must have prompted the familiar thought, I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122). Spiritual recovery is possible by God’s grace – a blessing for St. Peter, for the church in Riga, and for us too.

    (The ELS relationship with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Latvia is conducted by the Europe Committee of the Board for World Outreach.

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    Steve Petersen

    Supporting those who share the Good News that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ secured forgiveness of sin for all people – including you!

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