To listen to Pastor Marcus’ message click on the audio player below:
To read this sermon click on “Continue reading” below.
Communion Message based on Mark 8:34-38
Martin Luther, the great Protestant Reformer was rummaging through the stacks of a library and happened upon a volume of sermons by John Hus, the Bohemian priest who had been condemned as a heretic. “I was overwhelmed with astonishment,” Luther later wrote. “I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.” Certainly Hus would become a hero to Luther and many other Reformers, because he preached key Reformation themes a century before Luther drew up his 95 Theses. But the Reformers also looked to Hus’ life, in particular, his steadfast commitment to die for his beliefs as a source of inspiration.
Interestingly John Hus trained for the priesthood to escape poverty. He thought that becoming a priest could secure him a good livelihood and respect. He earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and then finally a doctorate degree. Along the way he was ordained in 1401. He became the preacher at Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel. This Chapel was a popular church and had one of the largest seating capacities (of nearly 3,000) in one of the largest of Europe’s cities, a center of reform in Bohemia. During these years, Hus underwent a change. The writings of John Wycliffe had stirred his interest in the Bible, and these same writings were causing a stir in Bohemia. While Hus had no intention of altering traditional doctrines, he wanted to place more emphasis on the Bible, expand the authority of church councils (and lessen that of the pope), and promote the moral reform of clergy. This was faced with great resistance from authorities and Hus was eventually tried at the Council of Constance as a heretic and was eventually sentenced to death. As we remember John Hus this morning, these powerful words from Jesus from Mark’s gospel ring loud and true:
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (Mark 8:35)
John Hus lost his life for Jesus and the gospel.
Today as we come to the Lord’s Table we also recall that Hus was among the first to speak out publicly about allowing all Christians to receive full communion, being served both the bread and the cup. Hus understood the true meaning of discipleship. Discipleship means following even to the point of death. Hus once offered these words: “Seek the truth. Listen to the truth. Teach the truth. Love the truth. Abide by the truth. And defend the truth unto death.”
While John Hus sacrificed his life for his beliefs, Holy Communion this morning is not really about John Hus, it is time to recall our greatest leader in life. Our great leader, our greatest role model for discipleship is of course our Savior, Jesus. Jesus modeled so powerfully what true following means as he denied himself, took up the cross and followed God’s leading to his death.
Earlier this week on July 4thwe celebrated the birth of our great nation. Hopefully during our celebrations we remembered those who helped create our great nation, a nation where we are free to worship God. Today in just a few moments we will participate in another celebration. Let us come to the Lord’s Table this morning and remember those who were and are instruments of reformation and renewal in God’s Church.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
July 8, 2018