Back in 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Prague in the Czech Republic during the 600th anniversary of July 6th 1415 when John Hus was burned at the stake. Moravians around the world still remember this day every year, and some churches including Friedland celebrate Holy Communion on the Sunday closest to July 6th. Hus was a priest, a scholar, and a teacher who spoke out against the selling of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins. He also spoke out against crusades where the church authorized killing those who disagreed with the teachings of the church. Hus was instrumental in shaping the written Czech language and believed that people should be able to read the Bible and hear preaching in a language they could easily understand. He also believed that lay people should be able to have both the bread and the cup in communion. Before this, only the priest was able to drink from the cup.
We can learn many things from studying the life and teachings of Hus. He was devoted to following Jesus the best he could and was not afraid to challenge the power of the established church when it strayed from the purpose of loving and serving others. Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from Hus though is the way he interacted with those who disagreed with him, even those who sought to destroy him. Hus stood up for his beliefs in a respectful way and posed genuine questions without the desire to tear anyone down but to simply understand. Today we will encounter many people in this world who disagree with us and will try as hard as they can to tear us down. It is important that when dealing with such people we remember the example of Jesus that Hus followed in his life as well. Instead of becoming defensive, agitated, or hostile, God calls us to have compassion and seek understanding. It is my prayer that the God who made us will empower us to stand up for what is right while maintaining love for those we don’t agree with.