HAVE I BEEN WITH YOU ALL THIS TIME, PHILIP
with Rev. Rachel
9 HAVE I BEEN WITH YOU ALL THIS TIME, PHILIP - John 14
It was a casual read of an article that barely interested me. Something about Christian sites in Turkey, two ancient structures there, one of which had only recently been unearthed…Mostly, I was thinking about how the sun should make an appearance.
Then the author dropped the word “Virginia” like Virginia and Turkey are talked about together all the time. I was back in the (reading) game, gazing at a photo with this caption: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund.
I may not have known what I was looking at but holy cow, I was across the street from it! It was my lucky day. Or, I was a fool for never having bothered to locate this thing currently housed in a museum I claim to love.
It was a bread stamp. Bread stamps were, in antiquity, pressed in the side of a loaf to signify where it came from or where it was supposed to go. This particular bread stamp featured the two holy sites about which the article had been written.
In the summer of 2011, an excavation director struck gold in Christian Turkey. It wasn’t the bread stamp but rather the site imaged on the left side of the stamp. By virtue of having found the remains of a fourth or fifth century church, Francesco D’Andria had found the tomb of the apostle Philip.
So, the VMFA across the street has had a bread stamp that had been trying to tell us that there was this other church (and tomb) at Hierapolis All this time, an intricate bit of bronze knew something of the Philip Jesus called and loved. It is crazy in beautiful way when the dots connect. Generous patrons of the arts…faith in the first century…modern archaeological discoveries…the Apostle Philip…us.
Maybe you would have to have been there in my office and reading the article for that last sentence to translate. If I have a point, it’s that one never knows what will engender a sense of curiosity and appreciation for the arc of sacred history and the cast of characters in our faith family tree. It all started with a dry article.
When we hear from him in John 14, know this Philip to be not only the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs, but in some small way, our next-door neighbor-apostle.