I’m laying on my sofa, “recovering” from ACL surgery and reminiscing.
Indulge me, if you will.
Last Summer, I fell in love. It was totally unexpected. I wasn’t looking for it. It just happened out of the blue. People had warned me it might happen. And they were totally right.
I fell in love with Prague.
If Rome is like lasagna, with layers and layers of history built on top of each other, then Prague is like an onion, sliced in half.
Where buildings from different centuries stand side by side. Telling their stories.
And it is stunning.
Not only because of it’s beauty.
But also because of it’s history.
The people. Their story. Of Freedom. And Oppression. And what it means to stand up for what you believe. And be martyred for it.
I went to visit my friends Marek, Cori and Te’a.
They are Christ followers who moved back to Marek’s homeland to help grow a church. Talk about kind, generous and welcoming. I had such a marvelous time visiting with them.
Now, I’m a huge history buff and love to take tours to learn all about what I am seeing. In Rome, Heidi and I hit up every tour imaginable. We learned all about the buildings and the history of the city. I totally geeked out.
Prague, was different. Instead of learning the history of the city, I got to hear her heart. We didn’t take any tours.* We just walked the city. Saw her sights. And as we walked, Marek shared the story of his people. And I fell in love.
Like any powerful story, there are multiple narratives that are woven together as the story unfolds. During my time with the Tyls, there were two plot lines that really moved me about the Czech people.
The Bread and the Wine.
I grew up in the South and my church history is spotty at best. The whole Armenian vs tulip thing is new to me. (For the record it is Arminianism but I just learned how to spell it during this post). So when I got hired to teach Ancient Civilizations which includes the Middle Ages and the Protestant Reformation, I had to do
a little tons of research to bring me up to speed.
I learned about the struggle for power between the Church and Kings. And how corrupt everything had become. How the Black Death leveled the playing ground, eliminating the feudal system and began shifting the power back to the people. I learned about Martin Luther and his contribution to the Reformation. And how the printing press gave the people access to the Word of God which allowed them to read God’s story for themselves. How the hymns were designed to teach theology, not neccesarily worship.
But one name I skipped over in my research was this guy. Jan Huss.
He is credited with being one of the first reformers. He lived 1oo years before Martin Luther guys. According to Marek (and history), he was a Czech priest who questioned the corruption of the church. If you have ever watched “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”and wondered, “What the heck?!?” about the priest…so did Jan Huss. And he was very verbal about his concerns. He stood up and spoke out against many things.
One of his big issues had to do with communion and the cup. Or the blood to be more specific.
At that time in church history, only the priests could participate in the drinking of the cup during communion. The people could have the bread and remember. But not they could not drink the wine. He was deeply bothered by this because the teaching of the Church contradicted the teaching of Christ. He felt all adult believers should have access to the Body and the Blood as they remembered what Christ has done for them on the Cross. Not just the elite.
So the Church invited him to Rome to discuss his concerns. And burned him at the stake for his convictions. Enter the Hussites. Those convictions led to war, reformation, opression and freedom.
I wish Lin Manuel Miranda would set the their story to music.
One of my most treasured moments during my time in Prague was sitting at a church service, watching a line of Czech believers share communion, where both the Body and the Blood were accessible to all. It may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was a Holy moment. This is the church the Tyls are helping grow. Ta Cesta.
According to a recent poll, only 19% of the Czech people believe there is a God.
That is why my friends moved home. To share the life and freedom that is found in a restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
Free from religion. And rules. And corruption.
Rich in connection. Meaning. And purpose.
Ok. My knee is starting to throb. I’ll share the second part of the story tomorrow.
Love, Love, Love,
The Girl Who Lives in My Head
*This is a lie. We did tour one castle. Where the guide spoke in Czech. Cori and I acted like ugly Americans by taking photos on the sly. Even though we didn’t pay for the privilege. We may or may not have embarrassed Marek with our antics.
Here is one of our contraband photos. I have no clue it’s signifigance. Only that I took it while hiding my phone from a very stern.