Even if you’re afraid of heights, this is one pinnacle I wish you could stand upon.
Even if you’re afraid of heights, this is one pinnacle I wish you could stand upon. Many consider it one of the most sacred sites in all of Dark Ages history. Today I’ve invited my young friends from the School of Architecture here at Andrews University to share with you the story of that unforgettable day when together we stood atop the Castelluzzo, that infamous rock tower high above the alpine valleys of northwest Italy and immortalized in John Milton’s sonnet, “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont”:
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans . . . .
But how can one brief moment of worship possibly capture the crimson drama of the Waldenses? And why make their intrepid preservation of the light of Holy Scripture through five hundred long years of spiritual darkness our theme for Alumni Sabbath? After all, the world and Christendom have long forgotten the “Bloody Easter” (April 24, 1655) massacre of those hapless innocents—a crime against humanity so unspeakable that when Sir Oliver Cromwell read the eyewitness accounts of the slaughter, he declared a day of fasting and prayer across England. But why should we care today?
Because in the fulfillment of the Apocalypse’s cryptic words in Revelation 12—the vision tale of a woman fleeing from an ancient Serpent into a barren wilderness and there hidden by God for the long, dark ages of medieval Christianity—in that fulfillment still witnessed to by the silent rocky sentinels of the Piedmonts is the unspoken assurance that the God who has preserved ancient truth through the crimson centuries since Calvary, the same God who raised up this university over a century ago, is the very God who will yet proclaim that very truth to this generation through the remnant seed of that very woman. For that reason their story is ours.
For as surely as Almighty God called upon the men, women and children of those cloistered valleys long ago, he is calling upon the men, women and children of this generation to embrace the missional legacy of the Waldensian people, captured in their Latin motto, Lux lucet in tenebris. “The light shines in darkness.” Indeed it did. And indeed it must. Yet. In your life and mine. Shine into the gathering darkness of a culture and world desperate for even the fragments of the only Light who can yet heal this world he loves.