The first time I was in the Pantheon, 2009 I think, I didn’t have my camera with me. Didn’t even have my cell phone, though I don’t know why.
When I was there in April I made it a priority to visit again.
There’s something about the Pantheon that draws people. Perhaps it is merely age, a Christian church that pre-dates Christianity. Maybe it is the design. Or perhaps it is the history.
Certainly it is not a quiet place to reflect on issues of faith and belief – it seems there are always people there. I do find though that I think of the religions that came before that are no more, washed away by the Truth of Jesus.
I also am reminded of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and other churches I have seen that are now mosques, places where the change was done not from ideas or belief but from the sword. There’s a difference there. When you think about it, it is a profound one.
They may take the building by violence, but the faith remains. In my work, I see it on a daily basis. The church in the Middle East is battered and bruised and faces huge challenges. Governments and societies are trying to drive Christians from the area (those they can’t kill). They don’t seem to understand that in attacking Christians they are telling their own people that the Christian message is true. Those people then start looking at who Jesus Christ is, and come to realize that he is God’s son, still alive today.
That is a simplification of a complex subject, one I am reluctant to get too deeply into for fear of making this a book-length post. Standing in the Pantheon I was reminded that the Christian church is people, not buildings, people called out of darkness into the light and together for the long haul. That isn’t going to change.
(Tomorrow a Pantheon photo essay.)