St. Michael Lutheran Church in Prague, Czech Republic.
Learning the liturgy
Try to imagine attending a Lutheran church service blindfolded. How would you follow along with the liturgy? How would you know when to sit or stand? How would you know what to expect throughout the service?
That’s how life has been for Martin, a blind Czech man who attends our church in Prague. Earlier this year, he asked if I could tutor him on the Lutheran liturgy so that he could more fully participate in our church services. We had been meeting every Thursday morning at a coffeeshop near his house until we entered lockdown again in mid-October.
Martin was born blind. He could distinguish between light and dark as a child but now everything is dark. Thankfully, our liturgy in Prague is chanted and Martin is a professional musician; he teaches guitar and piano. At first, I thought it would be difficult for him to memorize the entire service, but I am impressed by how quickly he attaches words to the music. I also thought it would be strange to be singing parts of Lutheran liturgy in a public coffeeshop in the most atheistic country in the world, but we have become regulars at the café and not one person has ever complained, though we sometimes do get a few “looks.”
In addition to learning the words and music, Martin also had questions about which Scripture is tied to each part of the liturgy. He also wanted to learn when to sit and stand, and when to make the sign of the cross. By mid-October, he had learned most of the Divine Service for the Pentecost and Trinity season. He now wants to memorize the Nicene Creed. Hopefully, the pandemic restrictions will end soon, the coffeeshop will reopen and his studies can continue. Martin is already thrilled with his greater participation in church.
Martin and his family have also become dear friends of mine, especially his wife, Jana. Martin and their young adopted son, Tomašek, are baptized but Jana isn’t. I got to know Jana better when she started attending my ladies group fellowship at church earlier this year. I was able to talk with her about Baptism and to provide her Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation in Czech. Martin Damašek, our Czech deacon, is helping her prepare for Baptism. I am looking forward to the day that Jana can be baptized by one of our Lutheran pastors and join the body of Christ.
This month I am thankful for YOU, for your prayers, financial support and continued encouragement:
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.
Philippians 1:4-5 (NIV)