One of the joys of being in the Balkans is that you are not far from where the New Testament letters were written and where the early church was started. Thessaloniki for example is a few hours bus ride from here. Next week when we are in Macedonia and Albania we will be even nearer. So the culture here is much closer to that of Paul's day then we experience in Northern Europe. This makes it fascinating for me and makes the words in scripture come alive. Events are much easier to imagine being here.
This morning Vlada led a fairly in depth bible study of the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians. The group were reading from their Cyrillic script Bibles while I read along from my iPad.
Afterwards, Lee and I went for a walk to the local open air fruit and veg market. It is only 24 C here, so people are still wrapped up in their winter coats, apart from us, who are enjoying this heat wave! Last year it reached 48 C to tell you how hot it can get. The stalls are already laden with fresh locally outdoor grown lettuces, radishes, spring onions and potatoes. In addition there are all the other salad vegetables that have been brought on under plastic, tomatoes, chillies and so on.
Then a walk around the Niš fortress, the remains of a Turkish fort with walls 8 metres high and 3 metres thick. Niš is a university city and so it is full of young people from the city and surrounding area who have come here to study.
The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (photo above) was born here in Niš and in 313 he issued the Edict of Milan when Christianity was given equal status with other religions in the Roman Empire. So this year 1700 years on, they are celebrating the Edict here in Niš. Vlada has been approached by an Orthodox priest to obtain Bibles and put them into the schools. Such an approach and openness to putting Bibles into state schools like this is unprecedented in Vlada's experience. So now we are meeting Vlada and another leader from Belgrade to talk this through.
Tomorrow we are of to a new church that has started in Kragujevac. But that is another day.
Some of the varied Books I've read recently in no particular order....
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. Another one of those books I wish I could have read 20 years ago. Excellent about how to achieve organisational health.
The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. very helpful in helping to understand Orthodox history and thinking. The Orthodox Church is the main church in Serbia and Macedonia.
Austria-Hungary and the orgins of the first world war. Helps with the historical background to the Balkans. The Powers at work then are still at work today, politically, economically. Samuel R Williamson Jr
Bradt Guide to Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia etc (excellent and sometimes the only guides avaiable for lesser known countries)
Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes. Opened my eyes to see the Gospels in a new way. Kenneth E Bailey