What can I say this is now my fourth day in the Czech Republic. I had written one of the best blog posts ever and you know what, somehow it got deleted. Those of you who read the blog regularly will her notice that the look has changed. It also means that the software to write the blog has changed and I'm not as familiar with it as I was with Wordpress. Anyway I'm back again to try and reconstruct what I have written and perhaps add a few more stories.
Martha and I are here as part of a re connecting exercise which the Church of Scotland is embarking upon with the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethern. We're joined on our trip by the Rev Ian Alexander the General Secretary of the World Mission Council and Rev Susan Brown who is the new Convener Designate of the Church of Scotland's European Committee.
Both Susan and I have been invited to take part in a conference which is exploring the place of Beauty in Liturgy and Contemporary Worship. Susan gave an excellent lecture on the essence of Celtic spirituality and the significance of the ordinary chores of life pointing to the eternal. I spoke on the significance of new technology as a shaper when considering liturgy for the 21st century. I was especially sharing something of the pioneering work we have been engaging with around streaming worship and community building and community enhancing via the Internet.
The Czech Republic has only quite recently become part of the EEC and the Reformed Church here still finds itself engaging with the legacy of being a persecute minority, this of course was a reality for them for centuries. Before the communists it was often at the hands of a strict Roman Catholic Church. This of course is no longer the case, but the memories are hard to erase.
One pastor spoke to me about the reluctance that many Protestant believers have when it comes to sharing faith or inviting friends to Church. For them faith is a private matter, for many they have had to hide their faith in order to survive or hold a job down. The church has learned to be suspicious and its difficult to change over night. The pastor spoke of Christians who talk of their faith in terms of hidden treasure. It struck me that the same could be said of many of us who claim to be Christians in Scotland. The only thing is that the Czech Protestants have an excuse, I'm not sure what excuse we in Scotland give who are part of he reformed tradition.
Prague is a very beautiful city. It has quite outstanding architecture and one or two amazing Church buildings. I passed by the Church where John Huss preached Bethlehem Church. Huss was one of the early reformers almost 100 years before Luther. He was a preacher who spoke of out against the excesses of the Catholic Church. He wanted to see the ecclesiology of e Church change. He also called for the Lord's Supper to be given to the people in both kinds. So Prague is a most significant place for the development of Protestant theology.
Today Prague has been described as the most secular of all the cities in Europe. Wandering across the medieval King Charles VI bridge you could be forgiven for thinking the very opposite.
Half way over the bridge I was confronted by a large group of men in their 20s. They had gathered around one of the statues and photographs were being taken. It turns out this point is where couples declare their love for one another by padlocking a lock to the bridge then throwing the keys away into the river. In this action couples declare their commitment to each other. However as Susan pointed out it was the fact that men were openly praying in a public space, which makes one consider what is really going on in the hearts and lives of people today.