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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Seven Churches of the Revelation: Sardis and Philadelphia

Read Revelation 3:1-13.
It is mind boggling for me to consider that I am walking where the apostle Paul walked and getting to see first hand what the area in which the early Christian was born. The imagery that John uses in his letters becomes so much more clear when you are here. This is a staggeringly beautiful area. Snow-capped mountains, lush vineyards, green rolling hills...a true feast for the eyes. And the ruins are magnificent. We began our day high above the city of Izmir. The view of the Aegean sea coupled with the sprawling city was breathtaking. I read aloud for our group the letter from John to Sardis. How fun to stand high above the city and read this ancient text. It is awesome to consider that I share the same faith with those who lived in this area so many years ago.
The rest of our day was spent traveling from one amazing site to another. The ruins of Sardis with the synagogue and gymnasium complex were simply awesome. I greatly enjoyed the small Byzantine church with its delicate arches set next to a large temple construct. The stuff we saw today dates from the 2nd, 4th and 6th century. It's been around for quite awhile! The craftsmanship displayed in these ancient treasures is nothing short of breath-taking. The church ruins in Philadelphia are mainly the enormous pillars that supported the structure. I found it especially interesting to view a minaret next these ancient church pillars. Our group huddled together in what would've been the altar area of these ancient churches and listened to the letters read aloud. The early Christians faced much persecution for their faith and pursued it at great personal risk. To think that their sacrifices have allowed me to come to know Christ as well is truly humbling.
Tonight we are in Pammukkale. It is an area known for its hot springs. I am sitting in the hotel lobby, surrounded the sounds of a Turkish band, breathing in second hand cigarette smoke and thinking about how amazing it is to walk these ancient roads and consider how my faith thrived in these parts so many years ago. It is awe-inspiring.