I’ve just returned from a trip to Turkey and Greece with my church where we retraced St. Paul’s second missionary journey. One of my favorite experiences was worshiping at the House of Mary near Ephesus where we celebrated Eucharist in a small chapel on the 4th day of our pilgrimage. Tradition holds that this is where Mary, the Mother of Christ lived after the crucifixion, and where John cared for her as Jesus had requested: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-27).
It was moving for our 42 pilgrims from St. George’s to worship and receive Eucharist where Mary lived and John visited 2000 years ago. It is likely that St. Paul would have also been familiar with the area having lived in Ephesus for around 3-1/2 years. In modern times, Paul VI was the first pope to visit this place in the 1960's and Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of The Virgin Mary as a pilgrimage place for Christians when he visited in the 1980’s. On November 29, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass at the same location where we celebrated on November 1, 2014.
Most of the other pilgrims headed back to Nashville on Saturday, November 8, but I flew to the Greek Island of Kos for four days of sightseeing and vacation. Kos is a small Greek island near the coast of Turkey. I looked for an Anglican or Roman Catholic Church for worship on Sunday morning, but there were no services.
Later that afternoon, I was checking email in my hotel when I received a notice that St. George’s in Nashville had just started broadcasting the 8:45AM service via Ustream. With the 8 hour time difference, it was still morning back in the States. I was amazed that I was able to experience the same service with my friends back home via the internet even though I was still in Greece.
I received Eucharist and read scripture with members of my St. George’s community where Mary, John and Paul would have lived and worshiped during the first century. Just a week later, I reconnected via the internet to worship and read Scripture with my community 2000 years later and 5800 miles away.
Holy Eucharist and Scripture Reading transcend space and time.
Christianity is Not Dead.