Sunday, July 30, 2017

The First Christians

The first community of Christians to come to Gaulle settled here in the city of Lugdunum, now Lyon.  It was a very difficult beginning.  In the year 177, under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, many of these early Christians were rounded up, tortured, and martyred because of their faith.   But the Roman attempts to stamp out Christianity were a total failure.  The Fourvière hill overlooking Lyon, once the Roman forum, is now dominated by a beautiful cathedral.  (The name "Fourvière" is derived from "forum -vieux" or "old forum".)   The hill still has many decaying remnants of ancient Rome including walls, two theatres, and a dungeon that tradition regards as the place where many of these early Christian martyrs were imprisoned.  But the dominant feature on the hill today is the Fourvière Cathedral, an edifice to the triumph of Christianity.  And the dungeon, the "Antiquaille", is now a beautiful memorial to the first 48 Christians who gave their lives for their beliefs here in France. 

Now fast forward almost 2000 years.  We get to come to this same place as missionaries for Jesus Christ.  And even though there is a degree of sacrifice in serving a mission today, it isn't anything like the offering made by those early Christians.  We live in relative peace and comfort.  We have great friends in our fellow missionaries and in the wonderful people of France.   We are privileged to be immersed in this place with so much rich culture and history.  The list of blessings goes on and on.  So if we ever start feeling in any way sorry for ourselves, or at any time start thinking that a mission is difficult, all we have to do is reflect for a minute about those who paved our way almost 2000 years ago, smile, and offer a little prayer of thanks. 

Fourvière Cathedral, dominating the landscape of Lyon.

One of the Roman theaters overlooking the city.

Inside "l'Antiquaille", the dungeon honoring the early Christian martyrs of Lyon.

Mosaics in "l'Antiquaille" depict Blandina and the first 48 martyrs.

Our senior couples from the Lyon Mission had a weekend conference in the South: Arles, Nîmes, Terrascon, Les Baux, Fontaine de Vaucluse, Orange, Avignon.  Here we are in front of the Roman Pont-du-Gard.

These olive trees, near the Pont-du-Gard are over 1000 years old.

We went to the sound and light presentation at "Les Carrières de Lumières" near Les Baux de Provence.  The show presented was based on the artworks of Bosch, Brueghel, and Archimboldo with accompanying music.  The theme of the presentation began with the creation of the world, evolved into life on this earth and then ended with a return to heaven.  Seems like we have heard of this three-step process somewhere before?!

Le Pont d'Avignon.  No, we didn't dance!

Orange, France.  Kind of appropriate to have our senior missionaries in front of a Roman Arc de Triomphe!