Thought for the Week, December 24 2021

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Turkey is not just about an enjoyable Christmas dinner.

Tarsus is a large city in the south-central corner of modern-day Turkey and was the birthplace of Paul, the apostle.

Born a Jew, Paul was a convert to the fledgling set of beliefs which became known as
Christianity. He was clearly a man of strong opinions and someone driven by his convictions.

In the course of his life he travelled throughout the Mediterranean area taking the message of Christianity to much of Turkey, the Holy Land, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Italy, where he was martyred for his faith in Rome in about 64-67 AD.

On his travels Paul encountered many dangers. He described these himself. He said: ‘Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked and I spent a night and a day in the open sea.

‘In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles.

‘In danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labour and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure.’

Has life changed all that much? Man’s inhumanity to man continues apace. We live in a troubled world.

In spite of all of that, we note that Paul still has a message for us today. It is the same as he gave to the Christians in northern Turkey. He advised them to follow these principles
– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.

David O McEwan, St Kiaran’s Scottish Episcopal Church