The dramatic cliffs and ocean view that we see from the magnificent Hotel Adakule here at Kusadasi are preparing us for our visit to the home of the famous church of Ephesus. The population of Ephesus at Paul's time was around 300,000, the size of Madison today. Like Madison, it was a commercial and governmental center which boasted many monuments, temples and theaters. Also like Madison, many religions were practiced there.
We began the day in prayer and by reading Acts 18, 19 and all of Ephesians. Our first stop was the port city of Miletus. Here Paul, after a three year ministry at Ephesus, gave an impassioned farewell and exhortation to the elders from the church in Ephesus. He was on his way to Jerusalem, eventually to Rome, and knew he would never see those dear friends again. Reading this passage by the place where he may have given his farewell was very touching, with a shepherd and his sheep in the distance making a perfect backdrop to this story. March 23rd and the 23rd Psalm were a perfect complement.
We were reminded, as we stood in the ruins of Miletus, of how the pagan culture of 2,000 years ago reminds me so much of our own. While Paul spoke to the elders of the Church of Ephesus at Miletus, he also speaks to us to guard against the harmful influences of the culture that surrounds us ("Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery, but instead be filled with the Spirit." Eph. 5:18).
... We walked down the main street of Ephesus, marveling at the remaining monuments of this once great city. We ended up in the theater of Ephesus, where the rioting shop owners gathered to rail against the Apostle Paul, and bringing an end to his ministry in that city after three productive years. We stopped at a nearby restaurant where a Turkish man taught Jeff and I two cute finger games. (Ask me and I'll show you). Even with limited language, we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with him and his 8-year old son.
Then we visited the grave of St. John in the ruins of an old church. A traditional site connected to Mary the mother of Jesus is nearby. I don't care that much about such "shrines," but the knowledge of what these precious brothers and sisters of the faith endured and passed along to us 2000 years later was very meaningful. We also visited the Ephesus museum. The medicines and instruments shown looked very much like the same things used up until the Civil War or even later.
Last stop of the day was a rug factory. We got to see first hand the many steps involved in producing hand woven rugs of solk, cotton/wool and all wool. We were all impressed with the wonders of the whole process from the miracle of God's creation of the silk worm cocoons to the amazing skill of the weavers who used multiple colored yarns to weave dreams of patterns into amazingly beautiful designs.
After this we returned to the palace (hotel) for a sumptious buffet feast of food and sight as the sun sank majestically over the ocean's horizon. (He who has the Son has life!) The ocean swells breaking on the awesome cliffs were a sight I will never forget. Too bad we didn't have the equipment along to climb these cliffs! The meal was one of the best we had. A myriad of colors, tastes and smells came from the huge buffet tables. We were all filled to overflowing the God's continued goodness and blessing to us day after day.
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