The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.
The Blessing of Aaron
The Baptism of Rus, celebrated on July 28, is a day of remembrance of the Russian Prince Vladimir's embrace of Christianity in 988. I've read several versions of the story, one describing how he chose Christianity from a list of religions because he was moved by the description of Christian worship, another that he was struck blind but then healed and claimed to have seen the true God, and one focusing on how his life changed dramatically afterward. He was like a new man.
There was a time when Russia, then the Soviet Union, seemed hopeless to me. I pictured wandering people, always looking, looking in the darkness for any kind of light, but unable to see. That description may make you laugh if you have been there or if you are not like me. But now it's not like it was. It feels different. How can I feel it? I can't explain that, except to say that when I pray for Russia I feel like someone there is praying for us. It is a good feeling.
I am going to put this picture here too. Why? Because I pray the above verse, the Lord bless you and keep you, for Russia and for Vladimir Putin. People have a lot of things to say about him. But prayer is something apart from all of that. It has no borders and no concerns other than the Lord bless you and keep you. Putin has talked about his beliefs some, but I wish he would say more. Happy Baptism of Rus to everyone!