At the top of St Mary’s Church in Krakow, Poland, where I stood just a couple of years ago, a lone herald sounds the trumpet. These days it simply marks the passing of another hour, but in previous centuries, it was played by the city guard to warn people of fires and other dangers, such as the arrival of hostile armies. It was a steel-tipped arrow from one such army that pierced the throat of the herald in 1257, but not before he had sounded the alarm: the city gates were closed and many lives were saved. You can still hear the tune played every hour, on the hour, but it is deliberately and abruptly cut short, to commemorate the death of Krakow’s brave herald.
As I gazed up at St. Mary’s balcony, considering how important it was for the trumpeter to sound the alarm, I couldn’t help but think about the Church’s need to herald the message of Christ. The reason for such proclamation is greater than civic duty; it is God’s appointed means for saving the world. God help us as we approach this holiday season to share this good news with the same degree of urgency, even as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians.
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).