Festival of John Hus, Martyred July 6, 1415 — July 2, 2017
The Human Face of the Good News
Keenly aware of the growing corruption in his beloved Catholic Church of the early fifteenth century, John Hus saw a disconnect between the biblical witness and how the church was actually living out its purpose. Because worship services were conducted in Latin, common folk in his day would not have understood the words of Scripture that were being read and proclaimed; they were made to feel unworthy in receiving only the bread from the Lord’s table; and they were led to believe that their very salvation could be secured through a donation to the church.
But what most pained Hus was that the church had largely become a matter of routine and procedure that did little to transform human hearts or society. For his outspoken opposition to this corruption, Hus was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.
Sitting in our sanctuaries 602 years later in the summer of 2017, we can easily condemn the action back then of church leaders who were blind to the deeper meanings of Hus’s attempts at reform. But today let us consider how perhaps our religious practice has become a routine, rather than a matter of the heart that transforms us into people of action.
As important as being together as a church is, and as much as the church needs the financial support of its members, the actions of transformed hearts beyond the walls of the church are what matters most in the kingdom of God.
Hus’s fundamental passion for reform was to move the church beyond being an end unto itself. How are we, as the body of Christ today, being called into the world to be the human face of the good news that Jesus came to show us?
Chris Giesler, bishop, pastor, Emmaus Moravian Church, Emmaus, Pennsylvania