There is something about Delphi. Our guide says it was all about ‘location, location, location’ and there is something in that. Located on a hillside looking down on huge numbers of olive trees, the land falling away towards the Aegean; the air, the vast blue sky and the towering cliffs. It is beautiful, stunning, memorable.
People came here for two thousand years to seek the advice of the Oracle. They were seeking answers to all kinds of questions and when the time was right they got an answer, perhaps obscure, perhaps unclear, perhaps unwelcome but an an answer nevertheless.
This all operated in a society, or in societies, in which answers to the big questions were constantly being sought. As we travelled from Kalambaka to Delphi today Dr Mark Vernon spoke to us about the Pre-Socratic philosophers and Socrates himself. It was fascinating to think of philosophy – the love of wisdom – in this land of questions and answers.
We’re travelling in the steps of St Paul and, as far as we know, he didn’t come to Delphi. Instead Acts tells us that on leaving Beoria
Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and after receiving instructions to have Silas and Timothy join him as soon as possible, they left him. (Acts 17.15 )
We assume he sailed to Athens, the capital of philosophy and a place in which teachers and their students discussed the big questions of life all the time.
So we have had a day away from Paul but as we left Delphi for Athens we began to pick up the trail again. But the theme of seeking answers to our questions is an important one.
We don’t have a tradition of oracles. In fact when Saul seeks out the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28.3-25) he is breaking God’s law. But we still look for answers. The church exists in a society in which so many people have questions yet don’t know where truth is to be found. So in consequence they will seek out any ‘oracle’. I believe we need to recover our confidence, the confidence that we will see Paul displaying in Athens, that Jesus Christ is God’s answer to our deepest, most profound questions. As Peter said to Jesus
‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6.68)
Lord Jesus, lead me into all truth, for you are all truth. Amen.