Ephesus is an amazing city of Roman ruins. I was instantly transported back to my childhood when me and my friends would read about Ancient Greece and Rome in our history classes and then in the afternoon play-act in an imaginary world of gods and goddesses and temples. This ruinous city in Turkey was for me an imagined nostalgia*–I’ve seen so many pictures and pretended so many times that I lived in Rome and consorted with Artemis and Apollo that being in Ephesus didn’t feel strange and new, it felt amazingly old and familiar. Not that I wasn’t awed and breath-taken, but in my childhood imagination I’d been there many times before, that this place of the ancient past somehow also felt like my past.
But there is a two-fold reason I loved Ephesus so much–besides my history-geek childhood-self freaking out, as a Christian, visiting this city was very significant for me. Saint Paul from the Bible lived in Ephesus for a time during his ministry, and while he was there he wrote his famous letter to the Corinthians, and after he left he wrote a letter back to the church he had started in Ephesus–his letter to the Ephesians. Realizing that Paul, one of the fathers of the church and whose writings have shaped my life, lived in this very city, blew my mind. That I could walk where he walked 2000 years ago is incredible, but this reality came to life in an amazing way when Chris read out loud Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in the amphitheater for everyone to hear. It was surreal hearing the words Paul wrote here spoken aloud in the same theater where he might very well have been when he was speaking and evangelizing to a crowd of Ephesians. And then crowning the whole experience, Eva sang “Amazing Grace” for us and her voice reverberated around the stadium, moving everyone there, Christian and and non-Christian alike.
That one site could hold so many memories of Ancient Roman and pre-Roman religions, AND be such a significant place for Christianity, is incredible, and I didn’t have nearly enough time to process the full significance–I could have sat in the library of Ephesus for hours. (Side-note: this place puts Case-Geyer to shame. They just don’t make libraries like they used to.)
*I definitely heard this phrase somewhere but I don’t remember where, so I credit you, whoever you are, who said this first.