July 7, 2014

About Time

Izmir Clock Tower
(photo credit: Brian Kaylor)
I have thought a lot about time today. What time is it? What time is it here, despite what my body says? What time is it back home, and are people actually awake to talk to me? Being eight hours off not only brings some jet lag, but also complications in communicating with family and colleagues. But being in Izmir, Turkey for the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), I have also thought about time on a bigger scale. This city has had continuous civilization for 3,500 years. It has changed names, changed forms, and gone through a lot of changes, but it has in many ways stood the test of time. Some of the more recent changes include U.S. commercialism littering the streets. Perhaps appropriately, the city symbol of Izmir is a clock tower. Built in 1901 when the city was still known as Smyrna, it even survived a devastating fire that wiped out much of the city in 1922. There is stands today, still offering the time.

Man playing music as sun sets over Aegean Sea
(photo credit: Brian Kaylor)
Walking along the Aegean Sea, I also thought about a time not easily seen in the city today. There was a time when this land played a key role in the creation of the Christian movement. Smyrna was one of the seven cities in Revelation (and the other six are also in western Turkey). Paul was born in what is now in Turkey and much of his missionary journeys were in this land. Several of his letters were written to believers in what is now Turkey: Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Philemon. Other early Christian leaders were here (both in the New Testament period and just after that time). In fact, the label "Christian" was first used in Antioch, which is today in Turkey. The Nicene Creed was written in Turkey (Nicaea, now Iznik) and church and state issues were dramatically changed in Constantinople (now Istanbul). Yet, today only a few hundred Christian churches exist in the nation and there are fewer Christians in this country than in any of its neighbors (including Syria, Iraq, and Iran). Times have changed. You can view more photos from my second day in Izmir here.

Globalization on the Aegean Sea
(photo credit: Brian Kaylor)


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