Sunday, July 5, 2009

"In the Beginning was the Word"

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Europe was seeing the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague. First built in 1391 for the purpose of preaching the Word of God in Czech, it is most famous for being the place where Jan Hus preached from 1402-1412. The rectangular hall could hold up to 3,000 people and at times there was standing room only.

The original building was almost entirely destroyed in 1786. In the 1950's a major reconstruction was undertaken using drawings and paintings that were discovered. The flagstone floor, several windows, fragments of the walls, as well as the door which Hus used to enter the pulpit, are original to the 14th century building. Click here for a beautiful panoramic tour of the main hall.
I was awed to be in the place where the gospel was preached and proclaimed to a people who were ready to receive it.

Paintings on the walls are modern reproductions of medieval paintings complimented with texts of Hussite songs.

Visiting the Czech Republic without being able to speak a word of the language, I was aware of the importance of purposeful and productive oral and written communication. Without a shared language, a person is isolated and unable to "connect" to the people around him. As I thought about the Czech people who flocked to hear the gospel preached in their own language, I thought how I couldn't imagine not being able to understand my pastor preaching the Word of God. How incredibly frustrating that would have been to a people who was largely illiterate and dependent on others to bring them the Scriptures.

I am thankful for the work of Hus and other reformers before and after him, Wycliffe and Tyndale to name two, who worked at translating and getting the Bible into the hands of the common people. Without their work, we wouldn't be able to read and understand the Word of God.
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