The Rev. Leigh Spruill was correct that Scripture would never read the same after our recent pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece.
It happened again this morning when the New Testament reading for the day was from Acts 17:22-31 where St. Paul is addressing the crowd at the Areopagus and gives a complete sermon in under two minutes.
The Aeropagus is northwest of the Parthenon in Athens and functioned as the high court of appeals for criminal and civil cases during classical times. Later, the Romans referred to the rocky hill as "Mars Hill", after Mars, the Roman God of War.
Paul’s speech at Mars Hill is considered a complete apologetic sermon. He first honors his hearers by naming them as “very religious” but he cautions that they have been distracted from the true God by “objects of worship” with an altar built “to an unknown god.”
Our pilgrimage group appreciated how little has changed in two thousand years and that Paul’s words still ring true. We still worship idols of an “unknown God” like possessions, pride and self-promotion rather than acknowledging, “In him we live and move and have our being.”
Paul cautions in verse 29: “ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals,” but instead, God is closer by: “so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.”
In verses 32-34 we learn that some men scoffed at Paul when he talked of the resurrection, but others wanted to hear more. Some even followed him and believed.
These photos are from our pilgrims’ time on Mars Hill. We walked the same steps that Paul climbed before his oratory, and we heard the words read from Acts as we stood at the bottom of Mars Hill, as if we were observers of Paul’s speech.
I left with one question on my heart. Was I among those that scoffed at the good news, did I still want to hear more, or was I ready to commit and become a follower of Jesus Christ?
I choose to be with the group that 2000 years ago, believed, committed and followed.
Blessings, my friend,