Travelling in the 20th Century

Of late I have been writing about the journey around the seven churches of Asia Minor in the 1st century AD. These have been various discoveries made while researching for the Apostle John series. They walked in those days.

Recently we have had our own trip, and complications. Please let me share with you…

time zone map

My husband and I left home in Australia at ten am on Thursday 12 September… West Australian time. (GMT + 8). We had four and a half hours before the flight, but I had never driven there before and this gave me time to be lost, find my way, and drop the car off. Our flight with Emirates Airlines left at 14.30 and it was an eleven hour flight to Dubai. After a five hour wait at Dubai, our journey continued to London, about another eight hours. During this time we were flying backwards in time, and we landed in London on Friday morning. Unfortunately, (for us) Heathrow is a very busy airport and it took another 3 or so hours to get through the process in order to leave the airport. We were grateful for the assistance provided by the wheelchair people, but exhausted.

Since I am one of those people who cannot sleep on a plane, I was grateful to arrive at the hotel, but my normal sleeping difficulty was still present. I had hoped the change of time zones would help. Not really.

We were off again early Monday, flying backward in time to Washington. It was a smooth flight, but we landed to very long queues at custom and immigration. We arrived in the aftermath of the shooting and there was a lot of confusion.

Confusion reigned in my head too… and I made a costly mistake. We went to a hotel and settled in. That night was the first full sleep I had experienced since leaving Australia. In the morning my husband mentioned something about Tuesday… EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!

My laptop was on West Aussie time, so was no help. My husband thought it was Tuesday.

“I hope not!”

“Why?”

“We are flying on to Nashville on Monday night.”

“I think it is Tuesday.”

I went to the office and asked the man on duty, “Would you tell me what day it is please?”

“Tuesday, 17th September.”date

He was very kind and gave me the number to ring United airlines. We needed to be in Nashville that day.

This is around where the nightmare started…

At first the woman on the other end said that it would cost $200 plus a $50 fee for reissuing the ticket. I was upset at having missed the plane but was glad she could get us on a flight.

Then she said she would have to recalculate.

A little later she came back and said that it would be $800… EACH. I asked how come it had jumped from $200 to $800. She told me it was because there were not many seats on the flight. I pointed out that it had cost me a little under $600 return for both of us when I had booked the tickets. She was not helpful, I was already upset… and this was devastating. My husband took over, gave the card details and she said she would send a receipt to my email address. An hour later it had not arrived and we were wondering if we had seats or not.

Well, it turned out we did, and an extremely helpful young woman on the counter checked us in early, put us on standby… and we arrived in Nashville at a reasonable hour.

dollars

The shock came the next day. Our credit card had been billed over $2,000!

Currently trying to make sense of all of this and obtain a refund from United Airlines but it is like running around in circles and going nowhere.

United Airlines do not respond to ‘contact us’ messages.

They tweeted me when I tweeted that I could not contact them

How do you explain in 140 characters?

Any hints on how to get a refund would be gratefully received.

Over $2,000 for a trip for two from DC to Nashville on a small plane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crazy

Tired and ‘stretched’,

Susan

PS Will let you know if we have any success

Laodicea, in Asia Minor

Laodicea, number seven in the journey around the churches.

Most Christians would recognise the name as the church that Christ criticised most strongly, quoting from Ramsay in his ‘Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia…

letter snippetThe Laodicean Church is strongly marked in the letter as the irresolute one, which had not been able to make up its mind, and halted half-heartedly, neither one thing nor another. It would fain be enriched, and clad in righteousness, and made to see the truth; but it would trust to itself; in its own gold it would find its wealth, in its own manufactures it would make its garments, in its own famous medical school it would seek its cure; it did not feel its need, but was content with what it had. It was neither truly Christian, nor frankly pagan.

Let’s have a look at ancient Laodicea.

Situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus, Laodicea was approximately 160 km east of Ephesus and, according to Strabo, it was on a major road. It was also a manufacturing centre. There was produced in the valley a valuable sort of wool, soft in texture and glossy black in colour, which was widely esteemed. So, with many ‘avenues’ of income, Laodicea was a prosperous city.

Planted right on the line of the great road Laodicea was a very strong fortress; but it had one serious weakness. It was entirely dependent for water-supply on an aqueduct conducted from springs about six miles to the south.Laodicea pipe

The aqueduct was under the surface of the ground, but could hardly remain unknown to a besieging army or be guarded long against his attack. If the aqueduct was cut, the city was helpless; and this weakness ruined the character of the city as a strong fortress, and must have prevented the people from ever feeling secure when threatened with attack.

So here, in the character of the city, we see some of the charges Christ levelled against the church in Laodicea.

“… “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing….” Rev 3: 17

The piped in water supply, whether cold from Colossae, or from the hot springs at Hierapolis was lukewarm when it arrived.

Christ charged the people with being lukewarm…

Lukewarm

So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev : 3: 16

And in another verse…

“I counsel you to buy from  Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. Rev 3: 18

Interestingly this verse seems to confront more than one issue… sources of their riches, were banking/currency exchange, Christ says to buy gold refined in fire. Another source of income was the glossy black, high quality wool, that they made into garments and sold, Christ tells them to get white garments.  The eye salve was another source of wealth… and Christ tells them to anoint their eyes with eye salve that they may see.

In short, succinct phrases, Christ targets exactly what they need to change, and those things are the areas in which the people think they are rich and have need of nothing.

The characteristics of the city were in the character of the people.

food for though2Food for thought.

Susan

Ancient Philadelphia

One tourist described Philadelphia on her blog as “a small collection of Greco-Roman rubble in a town called Aleshehir. The ruins are so tiny they aren’t even marked on the map, but someone has planted lots of roses here, and it’s very pretty.

Philadelphia

But it was not always like that. Twenty five miles south-east of Sardis, Philadelphia stood on a terrace 650 ft above the sea. Behind it are volcanic cliffs. (Bible Encyclopaedia.)

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The name Philadelphia, brotherly love, is said to have been given to it in honour of Attalus II because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II. The locality was subject to frequent earthquakes, and it was an expensive business rebuilding. (Smiths Bible Dictionary.)

In 17 AD the city was completely devastated by an earthquake and the city continued to suffer severe aftershocks for the next twenty years.

According to Ramsay in his Letter to the Seven churches…

earthquake

Philadelphia was known to the whole world as the city of earthquakes, whose citizens for the most part lived outside, not venturing to remain in the town, and were always on the watch for the next great catastrophe. Those who knew it best were aware that its prosperity depended on the great road from the harbour of Smyrna to Phrygia and the East. Philadelphia, situated where this road is about to ascend by a difficult pass to the high central plateau of Phrygia, held the key and guarded the door. It was also of all the Seven Cities the most devoted to the name of the Emperors, and had twice taken a new title or epithet from the Imperial god, abandoning in one case its own ancient name.

In other research, which I did for Hold the Faith, part 1 in the Apostle John series, I discovered, and made part of the conversation, some further comment about the ‘key’ position and the effect it had on the brethren.

Hold the Faith cover imageThe Jews denounce us, as happens throughout most of the region. But it seems in this city, the members of our fellowship are among those who take the brunt of these claims.” He went on to explain about the Jews here.

“Probably because of the position of the city, guarding an important pass, and holding the ‘key’ as it were to the commerce between east and west, not to mention the north and south; they believe they are special. They believe they are the true people of God, and that makes them more determined to have no rivalry for the title.
Hold the Faith, Susan Preston, Amazon, http://tinyurl.com/cm8efvy

None of the churches in the Roman province of Asia Minor had an ‘easy’ time. Some suffered more in certain areas, but all had to make the same choices as we do today… obedience to what we believe, and submission to God.

We have almost finished our journey around the seven churches, next time we are off to Laodicea.

Till then,

Tread softlyTread softly

Susan

Ancient Sardis

Next stop on our tour of the seven cities of Asia Minor is Sardis.

One of the cities on the ‘royal road’, Sardis was around 60 miles inland from Ephesus. A ‘fair hike’ as we would say in Australia. (I say this because the apostles walked.)

Pactolus River

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Sardis was located near the Pactolus River, gold (gold dust) was found near the river, and made the ancient kings rich. Supposedly the gold floated on the river, making it appear gold.

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An interesting aside…

according to legend, King Midas divested himself of the golden touch by washing himself in the river. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pactolus

Statue of Artemis·

As in Ephesus, the main goddess was Artemis (Diana, to the Romans) and the temple in Sardis was one of the seven largest Greek temples.

What did this mean for the early Christians? Again, they were up against a long-standing pagan culture.  There was a growing settlement of Jews there also, and the Jews saw the Christians as heretics. As in all the cities of the Roman province of Asia Minor, Christianity was not popular with the non-Christian people. Perhaps this was what led to them being castigated by Christ in His letter to the churches in the book of Revelation…

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Rev 3: 1 – 6

It would be a mistake to think that this is only to the Sardis church at the time.

God’s word, and Christ’s warning speaks to us today.

(Well, it does to me. After all, the last part says ‘let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches’.)

Where do I need to wake up? Am I remembering, hearing… and repenting of my shortcomings?

Sardis

Just some thoughts as we leave Sardis,

Susan