Church Accretion


I go to visit the Cathedral in Split, which was formerly the mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Starting around 299 AD he began the last and most extreme persecution of Christians by the Romans (including forcing them to offering sacrifices to the Roman Gods through torture), with the desire to extinguish Christianity completely.

It's ironic that his tomb became the Cathedral in Split in the 7th century. As I sat inside the tomb, the sense of age, and history was humbling. All the various altars, icons, symbols, and installations, where beautiful, and messy. An accretion of church life and growth that showed the history of the church over such a long time. I tried to imagine the real people, and transitions that had taken place, the cultural earthquakes, that were embedded into the objects of worship and physical space of the building.

The sitting at the back, talking and reflecting on the nature and purposed of church and challenges we face today in our contexts, seemed such a privilege and stimulus. Then I was offering prayers, wondering how many people over so long a time, had offered their prayers, and concerns and hopes, knowing that mine were joining theirs. I guess it was a moment when I felt a physical sense of the idea Paul gives us in Hebrews about being surrounded by a 'cloud' of witnesses, and I felt the urgency and weight of the imperative to witness faithfully today, and share Christ in my life and context.