27 September 2012

Get a Grip Fotbal Fans

As I write this American football fans are outraged over the performances of replacement officials at NFL (National Football League) games. Czech - and other European fotbal fans - are just outrageous.

No fan of the world’s most popular sport (called soccer in the US), I finally went to a game (match) last week. It was a professional game between two teams from Prague. Predictably, the game ended with a (non) score of 0-0 (nil-nil to aficionados). Neither team was particularly impressive in my not-very-fotbal-attuned eyes.

What was impressive was the police presence. As I arrived at the stadium I noticed a police helicopter above, at least ten police vehicles, three mounted police, and a number of very tough looking guys with berets and lots of weapons. Several of the vehicles were equipped with bars on all the windows, including the windshield. Everyone entering the stadium was frisked, including children. No bottles of any kind were allowed to be taken in.

After leaving the lackluster game, I got on my bus with loads of fans. It was crowded, but relatively quiet. I did notice, however, that one of those iron bar-clad vehicles tailed the bus and stopped at every stop with us.

Reading the Prague Monitor the next day, I saw an article about the brawl that took place between fans of the two teams at the Starometska Metro station, a station we often pass through. It was brutal. A translation of the opening paragraph of that story reads this way,
Police are looking for witnesses to a brutal football fights that occurred after the end of yesterday's match between Dukla and Slavia in the metro station Staroměstská.More than a dozen supporters Slavia fans attacked two competing Sparta - forwards into men lying defenseless on the ground kicking, beating them with fists, stepped on them and dragged them along the ground.
There is no exaggeration here. The Metro station has cameras. The film was embedded in the news story. I watched it. If you’re interested, you can watch it for yourself. Don’t let the kids watch.

Yes, for American fans, sports of all sorts can become idols. Football, in particular, can be a religion for many. I’m a fan, but I hope I never turn into a fanatic. It's different here. European fotbal fans need to get a grip. Yes, I know that I’m painting with a broad brush, but this is a pretty widespread problem.

What's my point? Glad you asked. If those who profess to be Christians applied the same amount of (non-violent) zeal to their faith, I assume the world would be a very different place. Would that we all would adopt the same level of vehemencel in promoting and defending the faith - and morality.

10 September 2012

Sabbath Day Walk

Sandra and I went on a walk yesterday (9 September) as we celebrated the Lord’s Day. Much of this walk was in and around the grounds of the Prague Castle. This is more than simply a tourist attraction. For more than 1100 years, the castle has been the seat of government and the scene of many historic events in the history of this land.

There are several chapels on the castle grounds. There is also St. Vitus Cathedral. The cathedral is described on one web page this way.
For more than 600 years, the roofs of Prague Castle have been overlooked by the towers of St Vitus Cathedral. The cathedral, whose original name is St Vitus, St Wenceslas and St Adalbert Cathedral, is the biggest and the most important church in the Czech Republic. It’s the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and the place where saints, kings, princes and emperors of Bohemia are buried. The coronations of the kings of Bohemia were held there until 1836. It’s one of the best examples of Gothic architecture. (http://www.prague.net/st-vitus-cathedral)
Just one view of this magnificent edifice   
We marveled as we walked around, and into, this architectural masterpiece. Now, I am no architectural student, but I was in awe as we looked at this building erected in honor of and for the glory of God.

Such construction is not necessary for us as we seek to worship our Holy God corporately and individually, however. No, I am not condemning the building of grand edifices. I am simply saying that where two or three are gathered in His Name, He is with them (Matthew 18:20). That may be in a grand cathedral or it may be in a small wooden building, or in a field.

It’s wonderful to soak up the history and the grandeur of days gone by. It’s better to worship God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We had the opportunity to do both yesterday. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.