On arches

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Karen Swenson reflects on the Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Built in the sixteenth century by the Ottomans, the Old Bridge stood for 427 years until it was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War. Now rebuilt, it is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks.”

Arch bridges like Stari Most have a “semicircular structure [that] distributes the compression through its entire length and diverts the weight onto its two abutments (supports at the ends that rest on the banks) and into the ground.” Karen points out that the physics of this shape change “the downward force of gravity into a sideways push” giving the arch bridge “more strength than a simple beam bridge.”

What if Christian community is a bridge? Do we stand alone, like a beam bridge, using our strength to hold up under the pressures of life? Or do we lean against one another, helping to change the downward forces on our neighbor into a sideways push?

In Scripture, we find all kinds of ways to lean into each other: encouragement (Hebrews 10:25), service (Galatians 5:13), mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), harmony (Romans 12:16), love (John 13:34-35).

Karen offers this prayer: “Father, may each of us see practical ways we can be an ‘arch’ that helps support” 

Eric Muhr