To worship at St. Clement’s, Prague on any Sunday is always a great joy, with the possible exception of a few occasions in the depths of winter when coping with the cold can be a little difficult But our worship yesterday morning was particularly special for two reasons.
Firstly, my good friend and ministerial colleague, Rev’d Dr Karen Moritz, was our preacher. As I have explained in two previous blog posts, ‘Welcome to another Karen‘ and ‘Pentecost in Prague‘, Karen is an ordained minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and since September 2010 has been a Mission Co-worker with the Ceskobratrská církve evangelické / Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, (Lutheran – Presbyterian), working in the Ecumenical Department at their denominational headquarters. The CCE / ECCB, are the largest Protestant denomination in the Czech Republic and are also the owners of Kostel sv Kliment where we worship.
Karen is licensed under the Ecumenical Canons of the Church of England, to preach, help in the administration of Holy Communion and to lead non-Eucharistic worship. She is a much loved member of the St. Clement’s congregation and a great support to my ministry. As always, it was wonderful to be spiritually fed by her preaching, rather than to always be giving out myself. You can listen to her sermon from yesterday by following this link to our Church website.
The second reason that this morning’s worship was so special was because I conducted the baptism of an adult young man named Ata. Ata is an Iranian Christian who, because of his adoption of the Christian faith, has had to flee his home country and is currently seeking asylum here in the Czech Republic. He has been worshipping with us for several weeks, supported by two female friends, Darina (Czech) and Silvia (Slovak), both of whom also speak Farsi.
It has been a privilege to spend time with Ata, preparing him for baptism, aided by Silvia who has translated into Farsi when Ata has had any problems in understanding my English. One of the many things that has impressed me about Ata, is the way he brings his Farsi New Testament with him to Church, so he can follow the Epistle and Gospel readings and improve his English at the same time. Ata also has a most engaging smile as you can see in the photograph at the beginning of this post.
It was very moving to hear Ata publicly declare his Christian faith before the multi-national St. Clement’s congregation yesterday morning – by my calculation we had at least twelve different nationalities present. Following his baptism and Ata receiving his baptism candle representing the light of Christ, the congregation burst out into a spontaneous and long round of applause. He also received many warm greetings at the Peace.
Ata and Silvia added one final nice touch to a very special Sunday morning, by bringing various Iranian specialities which they shared with us at Coffee Hour following the service. May Ata continue to ‘shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father’.