House of Mary: Ephesus, today Kusadasi Turkey. This is the small rock formed dwelling that is believed to be the dwelling place of Mary, mother of Jesus until her return to Jerusalem prior to her death. From the cross, Jesus gives Mary to John and tradition and archeology places them in Ephesus for many years after the crucifixion and resurrection. Popes John Paul II and Benedict along with pilgrims from around the world visit this holy site to light candles, and offer prayers on the walls surrounding the home.
Celsius Library of Ephesus, 3rd largest in the ancient world built in the 2nd century C.E., here SOPHIA holds up the Western wing of the library. Ephesus became an important center for early followers of Jesus. It is to this prominent harbor city Paul sends Prisca and Aquilla ahead of him to begin to make connections with Jews and forge a community of believers. Paul will preach from Ephesus so that people can travel from surrounding areas to hear him and then take the gospel message back. We believe this is how the 7 churches of Revelation are begun.
Extant material suggests that Prisca and Aquilla return to Ephesus after Rome and that a certain ΠΡΙΣΚΑΣ serves as Bishop of the small town of ΚΟΛΟΠΗΟΝΟΣ on the outskirts of the great city.
In the Ephesian amphitheater, Sarah McLaughlin sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and South Korean singers followed after her in their own language.
On this CBH Viewpoint trip we focused our study on women in the New Testament so that balanced our study time in ancient Ephesus with plenty of shopping with local merchants; hand sewn Turkish rugs and jewelry. Special thanks to Andrew Lyon and Lyon Travel for helping us to customize our experience so we could celebrate both the study of early church holy women and the gift of being women!
Wept in front of this icon today, stood right in the middle of the monastery of Meteora and cried when my eyes fell upon the sermon I needed to take in.
I've seen it before, of course, I must have, but today I was fully present, one thousand miles above sea level breathing deep the incense of sandalwood and rosemary, listening to the hushed voices of faithful chanting monks who live far away and above the cares of the world. I stood there in the candlelight, wax tapers that are the prayers of the saints and watched the reds melt into blue and gold, saw Jesus lifting Adam and Eve up out of their graves. The Resurrection, my own theology set to canvas, gilded in gold; Jesus enough for me, for you, for all.
The Real Housewives of the New Testament 2014 Tour of Greece and Turkey is happening NOW! We arrived this afternoon in Thessaloniki, 18 weary travelers looking forward to a life changing spiritual pilgrimage as we retrace the steps of women of the early church. Follow our trip here through daily posts. Also, check our post from fellow traveler and good friend, Sarah Scarbrough McLaughlin
We are haunted by the stories, we see their faces—those we imagine them to be—when we close our eyes. We pray for their rescue and we go to the grocery store and pay our bills and live our normal lives as if 276 girls weren’t ripped from their dreams and stolen from their beds in rural Nigeria.
We watch the video footage on CNN where the terrorists taunt us and attribute their brutality and desecration to Allah as if God would order the abduction and horror and slavery of women, stripped from the safety of their beds.
On Friday, April 14 during the night while 276 young women slept on cots and dreamed of completing their education, of drum beat and dance, members of the terrorist Islamist group Boko Haram overpowered the security guards at the school in Chibok, Nigeria. Caught completely unaware, almost 300 terrified girls were torn from their sleep and packed into trucks like cattle and smuggled into the forests of Cameroon. While more than 50 girls managed to escape, some 223 are being held by Boko Haram whose leader boasted to cameras earlier this week that by order of Allah, he intends to sell these girls, to force them into marriage so they can no longer go to school since education for women is sin.
The Nigeria government says they are working tirelessly to recover the girls; other nations and international groups are standing with them in aid, including the United States. In Abuja, London, and Los Angeles, citizens are taking to the streets and organizing protests over the abduction and Twitter and Facebook have been inundated with the call to action hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
We wring our hands, our hearts beat fierce with anger and injustice and we wonder, what can we do; separated as we are by oceans and history, politics and Shariah law.
We can get involved. We can join the conversation by using the hashtag and we can sign the petition and share with our friends and neighbors the call to U.S. Senators to interject themselves into this tragedy and advocate for these girls. We can raise our voices to compel our elected officials to work on behalf of these innocent victims who are a world away but who are our daughters, our sisters and nieces.
We can sew justice. We must recognize that in our own nation and even within the Christian tradition notions of women as inferior, less than and not equal to men still prevail. This is proven in the discrepancy of wages and the restrictions on religious office. In many Christian denominations women are still subject to male rule and domination due to ill-informed study of ancient texts. Is this so different to the impetus for groups such as Boko Haram who derive notions of God ordained female slavery from the pages of the Quran? What is needed is a theology of women that demonstrates women are too created in the image of God; that God is not male, rather, God is some other out of which both maleness and femaleness are derived. What is needed is celebration of the feminine character of the Divine so that it grows in our breasts and informs the justice of our lives.
We can pray for freedom. We can call the name of ישוע Y’shua, literally, salvation, deliverance. We can remind ourselves and those who gather in this name, that the God of Scripture whose son bears the name of liberation, who is always on the side of the oppressed, that this God is the one who opened up the sea so that God’s people might walk out of the bondage of slavery into freedom. It is to this God whom we must appeal and to whom we must cling.
Freedom and Justice for Our Girls, in Jesus’ name we pray.