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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Colossai and Laodicea

Philemon and Revelation 3:14-22
Colossai has not been rebuilt. All that is there right now is a hill top where the village would've been. But we know that Philemon lived there and of course, Paul's wrote an entire letter to this young church community...Colossians. It is great because Doug and I are preaching through the book of Colossians right now at church. How special to stand on the hilltop where this community thrived and grew. After a quick stop to enjoy the incredible view from this ancient spot, we continued onto Laodicea. Laodicea is a site that is newly excavated and it is exciting to see it all unfold. This was a very wealthy community and the letter from John contains harsh rebuke about how they are living their lives. The reference to lukewarm water takes on an entirely new meaning when you visit this site and see the incredible water system that allowed water to flow into the city. The ancient water tower has been dug up and the pipes from the original system are now visible! Such staying power.
Today our group sat together in the huge ampitheater and read the letter from Revelation and sang some hymns together. Just as we were getting started, the Muslim call to prayer began around us and it was so fascinating to be praying the Lord's prayer while the loud call was echoing around us. We have much work to do to gain a greater understanding of one another. As we prayed during their call to prayer I just thoughtfully considered how we must find ways to live side by side in spite of our differences.
I am moved by the visible, historic presence of Christianity in this area. I feel a deep kinship with Christians world wide as I try to take in what it means to walk where the original Christians walked. To spend this time in the region where the early Christian church has its roots is truly a gift that I will treasure for a life time.
We returned to our hotel and I indulged in a thermal bath at our hotel. After a wonderful dinner with my fellow pastors I am tired and ready to sleep. I know that the Muslim call to prayer will begin shortly after 5.00 a.m. and we ourselves have a long journey to Ephesus tomorrow.