The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed is more commonly known as Saint Basil’s Cathedral. St Basil’s stands at one end of Red Square in Moscow. The original construction took place between 1555 and 1561 but the Cathedral has seen many changes over the years. It was lucky to have survived the Communist era, and to this day is considered a state museum rather than a church. The building is certainly a delight to look at, but walking around the perimeter I was reminded that God generally chooses not to dwell in buildings constructed by people, rather in men and women who surrender their lives to Him.
It was somewhat of a surprise when having paid my RUB350 and entered St Basil’s that I found myself overwhelmed by the presence of God to the point of having difficulty standing. Looking around I could see that one or two other people felt it too, but most were more intrigued by the physical treasures of the ‘Museum of St Basil’s’ rather than the spiritual treasures of the Cathedral.
Given that it was Ivan the Terrible who commanded the construction of the Cathedral in celebration of military victories I could find no reason for God to be present in this place. But He was. So I began praying. As I prayed I realized that despite various reconstructions and cosmetic changes, even the conversion of the Cathedral into a museum could not alter the fact that this was a place where many people have worshipped God over hundreds of years. Is it so astounding that God would be waiting patiently for those who would still worship Him in St Basil’s?
I’m not sure how much the Holy Spirit features in the daily life of the average Russian but I find myself challenged by the number of churches that have been rebuilt or reopened since the fall of communism. Yet in the UK and other parts of the world more and more churches are falling into disrepair or being converted for other uses. Jesus taught that we are to be temples of the Holy Spirit. If those temples become museums then surely it is inevitable that our churches and cathedrals will meet a similar fate.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9 NIV)