Monday, November 13 2017
One of the many beautiful sights in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic are its many bridges. There are more than 300 of them, 18 of which span the Vltava River.
The Manes Bridge, named after Czech painter Josef Manes, joins Old Town and the Lesser Quarter of Prague.
The Legion Bridge is a granite bridge near the National Theatre that allows access to Strelecky Island in the middle of the Vltava River.
The Palacky Bridge is one of the oldest still-used bridges in the city, originally built in 1876 and named after Frantisek Palacky who was a famous Czech historian and politician.
The Troja Bridge is the newest and most modern bridge in Prague, completed in 2014. The bridge serves car and tram traffic, and also has bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways on both sides.
The most famous of all Prague's bridges is the pedestrian-only Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). Its construction began in the year 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and it was completed in the beginning of the 15th century. It was the first stone bridge built between both sides of the town, and was part of the coronation route from the Powder Tower to Prague Castle. It is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of the baroque-style. Until 1841, Charles Bridge was the only means of crossing the Vltava River.
While my husband and I were in Prague for a few days last summer, one of our favourite activities was walking along the river admiring the spectacular views, or crossing from Old Town to Lesser Quarter and back on foot over the various bridges.
For that is what a bridge is for: to span a body of water from one piece of land to another - to join two places together which otherwise would remain apart.
These last days, celebrating the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, discovering and learning about the 5 Solas that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity, I have thought often of Prague's bridges.
Partly, because one of Europe's most important pre-Reformers named Jan Hus came from and preached mightily in the city of Prague during the early 1400's.
But also because the 5 Solas - SCRIPTURE ALONE, GRACE ALONE, FAITH ALONE, CHRIST ALONE, TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY - are like bridges of compassion and mercy that span across an impossibly huge gulf that separates sinful man from a most holy God and joins the two together again.
It is only by the bridge called SCRIPTURE ALONE that humankind can know the heart and mind of God, and can appreciate the great and marvelous plans He has for His creation.
"All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever."
(1 Peter 1:24-25)
"Jesus answered, "It is written:
Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God."
It is only by the bridge called GRACE ALONE, given freely as a gift to all, that sinful men and women can be justified and rendered guiltless before a holy God.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -
not by works, so than no one can boast."
"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe...
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and all are justified freely by His grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
It is only by the bridge called FAITH ALONE that humankind can respond correctly and acceptably to God's love and grace.
"Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law,
for 'the righteous shall live by faith'."
"But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back."
It is only by the bridge called CHRIST ALONE that sinful-by-nature men and women can ever hope to enter the presence of a holy God.
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind,
the man Christ Jesus."
(1 Timothy 2:5)
"Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus Christ],
for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
And it is only by crossing the bridge called TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY, that humankind will ever know and be able to enjoy its true object, or rather subject, of gratitude and worship.
"I am the Lord; that is My name;
my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols."
"Not to us, Lord, not to us but to Your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."
Sir Isaac Newton - the English physicist, mathematician and astronomer who was famous for his work on the laws of motion and optics, gravity and calculus in the mid to late 1600's and early 1700's - is said to have stated one day: "We build too many walls and not enough bridges." And how true that is! Too often our insecurities and pride, bitterness and hate build thick and high walls between us and our fellow human beings, walls that become almost impossible to climb over or tear down.
But praise be to God who, in His infinite love and grace, always stoops down from on high to build not walls but bridges between Himself and His creation: bridges of unending mercy and peace and faithfulness - bridges that allow us to cross that otherwise impossible gulf between us - bridges that permit us to enter freely and confidently into His loving and gracious presence.
May we learn from Him, the Master Bridge-Builder.
And as Isaac Newton inferred, may we learn to build fewer walls and more bridges as we go through life. Surely the world, and our lives in it, would look ever so much more lovely that way!
More Reflections [+]