“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11: 15 KJV)
Forget Trump, North Korea – or Brexit - for the moment. Exactly 100 years ago it was Lenin – and Russia’s great Communist experiment. But, even by 1989, that was over.
The Russian cosmonauts who were rocketed into space in the Spring of that year had left their world with the Berlin Wall intact, with Ceaucescu of Romania firmly in place – and Czechoslovakia and Hungary safely under their long-term jackboot rule.
Six months later the cosmonauts returned to earth, to find the Berlin Wall down, Ceaucescu removed by the Romanian revolution, Czechoslovakia and Hungary no longer Communist – and with their own country reeling under Glasnost.
On December 26th 1991, the Soviet Union as such ceased to exist. In the following October – at the invitation of Russian churches - I was to join Noel Tredinnick and London’s All Souls Orchestra on a visit to Moscow featuring music and Christian witness. We were to find ourselves exposed to Moscow’s public – ranging from Tchaikovsky’s famous Conservatoire of Music to the very streets of Moscow.
It was on the city streets that I acquired a ‘doll’ – featuring Boris Yeltsin. But within this colourful figure were to be found - in ever-decreasing sizes – the main leaders associated in the events following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 – from such figures as the assassinated Tsar Nicolas II, through Lenin, Stalin, Krushchev, Breshnev and Gorbachev and finally Yeltsin himself.
It was eventually Boris Yeltsin who would ask for a gift of Bibles that he could give to his friends. It was also by his invitation that the Red Army Choir was invited to sing in public the famous mission hymn that, years earlier, had originated in Russia itself - How great Thou Art.
True, those heady days have since passed … and Vladimir Putin is now in charge. It is, however, Viktor Hamm, perhaps Russia’s best-known preacher – originally born in a Soviet labour camp - who in May 2017 - co-ordinated a world Summit Conference on the defence of those persecuted for their beliefs. Much is still coming out of Russia …
But back in 1917, in ‘Ten Days that Shook the World,’ the Marxist-Leninist revolution had taken place, based on the Dialectical Materialism that, in Lenin’s words, offered ‘Peace, Bread and Land.’ Here lay an enticing offer of a Workers’ Paradise for the future - but any promised ‘Paradise - whether Communist or Capitalist - can only end in ashes.
It was the Christian philosopher and writer, Lesslie Newbigin, who would later comment, ‘The project of bringing heaven down to earth always results in bringing hell up from below.’
The 100-year experiment is over. But be sure, that - as any single regime goes down, from East to West - another arises to replace it. But not for ever …
Further - in our ever- changing world - believers can find comfort today in the statement of the historian, T.R. Glover: ‘The final disappearance of Christianity has been predicted so often, as to be no longer interesting.’
You can stake your own soul on that … and the sooner the better. But listen - no one will coerce you!