It’s time to leave Greece. This morning we had free time and many of us went to the new Acropolis Museum. Our hotel has been very conveniently situated for this wonderful new home for the statutes, reliefs and other artefacts found on the acropolis and associated with the Pantheon. Of course, you are often reminded that the ‘Elgin Marbles’ should be here and, indeed, the building was designed to house them. Instead, there are copies of all the pieces of the frieze that are in the British Museum.

But it is a wonderful museum. The sense of space and the generous way the building doesn’t compete with the displays makes it one of the best archaeological museums I have been to. Amongst the displays was a relief that our guide had talked about. When one group of invaders arrived in the city they did not destroy the panel because it was thought to be of the annunciation – a seated woman and a winged messenger – but it wasn’t depicting that at all. However, it survived.

Not the annunciation

Not the annunciation

For Paul as well the time came to leave. At the end of the account of this part of his missionary journey Acts records this.

After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow. (Acts 18.18)

He had been in the country a long time, made the journey that we have followed, from Neapolis to Corinth. It was a journey that helped form the church and ‘turn the world upside down’ – and for us?

'O happy band of pilgrims....'

‘O happy band of pilgrims….’

I think our relationship with Paul has changed. His letters to the churches we have visited have become very significant for all of us and when we read these chapters in Acts again we will be transported back to to the places we have been privileged to visit. As with all pilgrimage, it has been an encounter with the God who calls us to keep travelling.

God of our journey,
you have blessed our travelling;
bless us as we continue to follow
in the steps of the saints,
as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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