An Unenviable Task
|by Catherine Larson|
I dare say that I would not wish to be the one visiting Turkey this week with the world's ears glued to my every word, scouring it for potential offense. Whatever your religious stripes might be, you can't overlook the fact that the Pope's journey is a significant one on a very public world stage, and one that we would do well as Christians to pray over Christ is a stumbling block, after all, and we should not be surprised if there is some toe-stubbing in the days ahead. We should also not ignore the danger implicit in the Pope hazarding such a trip into territory where John Paul II met an angry gunman in 1981.
The land of Turkey is rich with heritage and religious symbolism. From Paul of Tarsus to Luke of Antioch to the Cappodoceans to John of Chrysostom to the churches in Ephesus and Antioch. This past Sunday at my church we read the story of God's call of Abraham. I couldn't help but recall that that story also begins in what is present-day Turkey in a little village called Haran.
The BBC also mentions the scheduled visit to Haghia Sophia in Constantinople which was for over 1000 years the largest church in Christendom. It was later converted to a mosque and today is a museum. Today the Christians in Turkey are a slim minority among the predominant Sunni Muslim population. I can't help but yearn for churches like those Paul planted to spread out again in these regions and for the name of Christ to be cherished there, for His name to be mouthed in faith on the lips of Turkey's children as they pray. Perhaps as you hear the news headlines this week, you can join me in praying that the light would once again shine in Turkey and in praying that God would grant grace and wisdom to Pope Benedict in his journey.