Lisa Nichol Hickmans begins the final chapter of Writing in the Margins with this thought:
When Karl Barth encouraged the spiritual discipline of having the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in another, he hoped such a posture of prayer might set things right in a broken world.
So, I am continuing my journey through Zechariah while trying to come to a better understanding of Syria, a place in the world that seems very broken at the moment.
I just started reading Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present by Christian Sahner. I hope to share some thoughts from the book soon.
Today my heart is very much turned to the church in Syria. Syria lays claim to the most ancient church in the world. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The liturgy of St. James the Apostle, used in the church is the oldest surviving liturgy in Christianity and the liturgical language of the church is Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The church claims St. Paul and St. Peter as cofounders of the church.
It seems that Christianity quickly replaced Paganism in Syria, but about six or seven hundred years later Islam replaced Christianity as the major religion in the area. But the church remained as a separate entity and the Islam in Syria appears to have roots that stretch into a Christian past. From Among the Ruins, I learned that it was quite common during the time of transition for Christians and Muslims to both worship in a building once used as a Pagan temple. There’s a fluidity in Syria that’s hard for Westerners to grasp. It was a surprise to me to learn that The Great Mosque of Damascus has a Jesus tower and also the relics of John the Babtist. The more I learn about Syria, the more I feel that it doesn’t quite fit into the neat categories we like in the West.
I found a beautiful video that shares a little bit about the history of the church in Syria, the current crisis, and the work that the church is doing to repair and heal the country. I pray that God blesses the church’s efforts to rebuild and bring reconciliation. May the church be who it is called by God to be!