Our day began with a talk on the bus by Prof. Nienkirchen on the development of Pentacostalism in America in 1901 in Topicana, Kansas . It was a fitting start to a visit to two days of visits to churches both commended for (Philadelphia) and warned about (Sardis) their spiritual ferver. Philadelphia was commended for its love by John (Revelation 3.7-13). This was one of three churches founded by Epaphras in the Lycus Rive Valley while Paul was in Ephysus. Yesterday we had stood among the ruins of Laodocia from which we could see a triangle of Colosse and Hireapolis each about ten km away.
There was a warm feeling still in Pamphelia. There as not much to see as the modern town has been built over the ancient tow. This was a blessing in a way as we had been to so many tourist mega-sites with crowds of tourists – and no real peace. While there was no modern Christian presence, it was comforting to see the remains of the huge basilica still towering over the mosque across the street.
Sardis (modern Sart) in Lydia – as in the homeland of the woman who dyed purple cloth, is another huge site with a distinctive re-constructed Gymnasium and Synagogue. We often have talks or read related Scripture at sites. I was invited to explain and share our Anglican Eucharistic Prayer and Preface of Pentecost. Many of the students had probably never experienced ‘real liturgy’ or had an explanation of the Eucharist as a renewal of Baptismal covenant. I particularly noted the words “this is my blood of the New Covenant” in the prayer and the references to the Holy Spirit. We did not have a complete Communion Service as we are trying to respect a variety of spiritual backgrounds and maintain our group status as academic study as opposed to misional. Polycarp, the beloved Bishop who had traveled to the Holy Land to talk to people who had known the earthly Jesus, was martyred here, refusing to deny the Lord he had served so well for 86 years. It was yet another reminder of how low the church has fallen and how compromised we have become. It is probably appropriate to borrow from my letter to the Primate, encouraging him to transform the Anglican Church of Canada from a politically led to a Holy Spirit led agenda.