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Seeking What is Central

Posted on 11/27/2016 by SuperUser Account in Luke Daniel

Scriptures: Luke 23:1-5 and Daniel 6:6-27

Janos Pasztor was a pastor of the Reformed Church in Hungary during World War II. He was maybe 5’6” and 130 pounds soaking wet, a fairly small man with bushy brown eyebrows and thick glasses that magnified his brown eyes. He visited the United States some twenty years ago to share his life and history and preaching. His wife said he would never go on vacation, but if asked to preach, he would go anywhere.

He told about preaching during World War II.  On Sunday mornings, he said, the SS would come and stand in the corners of the sanctuary, listening to him.  They didn’t really understand what he was saying, he thought, but at the same time were suspect that what he was saying might actually have some power.  And so they listened to see if they could hear anything subversive; anything that would challenge the Nazi regime so that they could squash it out.  The Ruler of the State, Hitler, was in the place of ultimate power, ultimate position, or so Hitler and his followers thought.  But Janos Pasztor and his congregation knew there was a power much greater than Hitler - - Almighty God.  And Pasztor knew that the Nazi’s did not understand this power.  And so he continued to preached, many times with sweat on his brow, each Sunday.  He said he found Daniel particularly helpful during the war.  Stories that seemed innocent enough, of lions and fires, and yet held great power for those who needed wisdom, direction and hope in hostile and frightening times. 

                After World War II ended, it may seem that things would be easier for Pasztor and his colleagues.  No longer would the SS stand so dauntingly in the corners of the sanctuary each week.  But they were not easier.  New challenges and forces rose.  Liberated from the Nazi’s, Hungary soon became a Communist state where the church again was not understood, and not trusted.  Hostility continued. 

In a paper he wrote in 1995[1] Pasztor wrote, “While the Church was trying to find its way in a new situation [the Communism that followed the War], the communists went on building up their apparatus of oppression.  A state office for church affairs was organized for the purpose of keeping the church under strict control, to render it irrelevant and to push it to the periphery of society before its final extinction.” 

There was a Secret Service that operated nationally, he said, and an additional Secret Service for the church, for double control.  These Secret Service officers used informants, in and outside of the congregations, they used mechanical spying devices.  They monitored and intimidated and threatened.  “The Communists made many shrewd calculations,” he said, “They did not, however, take into account one factor:  The Word of God.” 

                Many of those in power in Daniel’s time did not take into account the Word of God or the power of God either.

                Daniel tells the story of a faithful one in exile, one who is a visionary, of considerable accomplishment, a man of the Torah, one who exemplified faithfulness and a man of prayer.  His strength and firmness of his resolve rose out of the Word of God.  He was the bearer of the Prophetic Word, another in the long line of faithful servants of the Lord going back as far as Moses.

[1] Pásztor, János (1995) "The Theology of the Serving Church and the Theology of Diaconia in the Protestant Churches and their Consequences in Hungary During the Time of Socialism," Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 15: Iss. 6, Article 3.  Available at:

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