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Jan Hus: Czech Him Out!

July 6, 2020

“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Romans 5:20

The Daily Texts, from which today’s passage comes, are selected annually by the Moravian Church. While this practice began in 1731, the Moravian Church’s history goes back much further. Back to a Bohemian priest named Jan Hus who spoke against rampant abuse within the church a century before the Wittenberg Reformation took root.

In order to escape poverty, Hus travelled to Prague and trained for the priesthood. His commitment to his studies is said to have been remarkable. In paying attention, he learned that the church’s practice had travelled quite a distance from good theology and the true faith. He began to preach and teach against abuses in the church, including the withholding of the cup from the laity and the selling of indulgences. One sees Hus’s influence on Luther immediately.

Not surprisingly, Hus ran into trouble. His archbishop was troubled more by Hus’s insubordination than his theology. Ultimately, Hus was caught inn the middle of one of the church’s most unfortunate moments: two rival popes selling indulgences to raise money to wage war against one another in a quest for political power that had next to nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The papal schism was ended by the Council of Constance. So, too, was Jan Hus’s life. He was martyred on this day in 1415, burned at the stake in spite of Sigismund of Hungary’s promise of safe conduct. In his final moments he called out, “Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us!”

His ashes were scattered in the Rhine River so that adherents could not venerate his remains. Nevertheless, his teachings lived on, spurring further reformations and altering  the course of history in Bohemia. In 1999, Pope John Paul II issued a statement of “deep regret,” praising Hus for his moral courage in the face of a cruel death. Jan Hus, in his living and in his dying, is a testament to the power of grace in the face of sin.

May that same grace be upon you today. May we live with moral courage during these days. May Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, we thank you for the witness of the martyrs. In the face of sin and death, they clung to their faith in Christ as a witness to the world. Let their courage and boldness inside our faithful living today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The Jan Hus Memorial in Prague’s Old Town Square. Photo by Jerzy Strzelecki, used with permission. I have my own pictures of this striking monument somewhere, but couldn’t find them.

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Paul Haberstock permalink

    Good Morning Pastor David,

    Thank you for the reminder of such Bohemian influence. How I wish my wife (nee’ Chorba) and I had traveled there. The best we could do was Spillville, Iowa for the 100th anniversary of Dvorak’s summer there. And we enjoyed the blessed friendship of Jary Vajda. Thank you, again, for the blessed reminder.

    Whole heartedly, Paul

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