Carrying it on to completion                                                                    May 13, 2016

It’s hard to imagine, but today we completed our “Steps of Paul” tour.  For the past 19 days we have gone through the Steps of Jesus, Steps of John and now the Steps of Paul.  I guess that it was appropriate that we finished with the location of his baptism of Lydia and the location of my favorite book (and Lenny’s too) Philippians.

The last couple of days I have had trouble with real scratchy eyes.  This was the result of sand that blows in from Africa over the Med. Sea and creates what appears to be haze.  In actuality it is fine sand.  Today we left from Thessalonikki with our first stop being the place where Paul met Lydia.  Although the river has changed some since then, we visited the general location of her baptism.  There is also a church that is named after her there.  This is a Greek Orthodox church and have seen several over the last few days.  They are typically adorn with many pictures of biblical scenes called “icons”.  James has led us through these stories that otherwise we might have overlooked.  I have really enjoyed studying these.

From there we spent some time walking around Philippi.  The city was named by Philip II and was a favorite of Paul.  We toured three separate locations of where temples were located over the centuries.  Like many locations that we have visited it is still an active archeological site.  It seems that most everywhere people dig, a new discovery is found.  We visited a large marketplace and theater that was discovered in the middle of Thessalonikki where a modern building had burned.  When they went to clear the site for a new building, they found another ancient site.

Paul did not preach in the temples that we saw since they were built later than his visit.  He did however teach in houses located within the city, some possibly we walked through.  I kept imagining what it would’ve been like having him teach a small group.  Toward the end of this tour, our guide posed the question, “why did Paul talk so highly about Philippi and not of places like Corinth?”  In Corinthians he talked much about being unified together and not divided. This wasn’t something that was mentioned in his book to this church.  Paul talked about things like;  “I thank God every time I remember you” (1:3),  “he who began a good work in you will continue it..” (1:6),  “And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.. (1:9),  This church was faithful in their work and was grateful for them.

As Kim and I wind up this first section of our sabbatical trip, we have had the opportunity of seeing some amazing sites and have met several new friends.  As we reflect so far into this spiritual journey, we share the words of Paul, “we thank God every time we remember you..”  That is speaking of our time in Bremerton Covenant Church,  Community Covenant Church in Kearney, MO. and Milwuakie Covenant Church in Milwaukie, OR.  We continue by saying, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Tomorrow we head to Rome to meet with the Pope, or at least see where he works.