Sunday School Stories

I spent many a Sunday morning in Sunday School. I’d say I was fairly well behaved and attentive, not because I feared the wrath of God, but because I feared the wrath of my parents. Those of us of a certain age remember how, back then, teachers didn’t hesitate to tell on you if you misbehaved. I suppose that I figured it would be a while before I would come face to face with God and I had time to make amends (or excuses) for bad behavior, but my parents’ punishment was swift and sure and could totally ruin a perfectly good Sunday afternoon meant for romping around the neighborhood with my friends.

The thing about travel is how you can be incredibly blindsided when and where you least expect it. It’s true I really didn’t know what to expect in Uzbekistan, but I never expected anything remotely related to Christianity here. The Christian population of Uzbekistan is minuscule, with estimates of the percentage of Christians ranging from one percent to 2.3 percent. Islam came to Uzbekistan in the eighth century and before then, the people were disciples of Zoroastrianism. Christianity was never big here, but we have come upon two sites that take me back to the Sunday mornings of my childhood.

In Samarkand, we visited the Khoja Daniyor Mausoleum, one of roughly five sites purported to be the grave of Daniel (Daniyor). There are lots of reasons to believe that he is buried in Iran and there is also evidence that he is buried in Iraq, but I can’t imagine any scenario where we will visit any of those sites. This site in Samarkand is considered holy to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, making it a rather rare place that all three of these religions agree upon. I do remember the story of Daniel and the lions’ den although details are sketchy. Seems he was thrown into the lions’ den, but I can’t remember why. I also remember that the lions did not harm him, which I’d say was miraculous. And I guess that’s the reason we are still talking about him after all these years.

This is Daniel’s mausoleum. It is believed that the tomb keeps growing because it is taking in the sins of the world.

 

In Bukhara, we visited Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum, another holy site. It is revered as the burial site for Job (Ayub). The name means “Job’s well,” because it is believed to be the site where Job struck the round and a well sprang forth. If you remember your Sunday School lessons like I do, you will remember that God tested Job’s faith by afflicting him with all sorts of trials and tribulations. Job’s faith was resolute throughout everything. God told him to strike the ground with his foot and a spring gushed out of the ground at that exact spot. I didn’t actually remember the part about the well, so this was sort of a refresher course for me. There are other locations that are associated with the spring, namely Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Kazakhstan.

Job’s Tomb

The water from the well is said to have healing powers, too.

 

I’m a long way from those Sunday mornings squirming in frou-frou little dresses and patent leather shoes with lacy socks, so it was fun to see these two holy sites. It is interesting that people of different faiths all over the world basically hear the same stories. It is fascinating that although people worship very differently, many of the themes stressed by different cultures and different religions are the same everywhere.

5 Comments

  1. Sarah Guida on May 3, 2024 at 3:08 pm

    So interesting! I too remember those Sunday mornings!

  2. Melinda Young on May 3, 2024 at 3:09 pm

    Been thinking of you guys a lot today and hoping you are enjoying this trip. Sure sounds interesting. How about the cuisine?

  3. Donna Keel Armer on May 3, 2024 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve been shadowing you but not much time to comment. I’m into final edits for the release of the next book on June 15. Love these biblical stories that are not unique to just Christians…well, they were originally Jewish stories…and during those days the world religions borrowed stories from each other and adapted to their particular god/religion. Daniel was in the Lion’s Den because he wouldn’t stop praying to his god…..and the king didn’t like it or maybe it was some of the king’s advisors. Job (for me) is the story of most everyone’s lift only it’s embellished quite a bit…..probably in an effort to make the fear of god greater than great…..and to point out that only god can sustain us through an adversity…just speculation on my part……but I remember the frou-frou dresses and patent leather shoes with lacy socks, and a bonnet which was often lost…..the sites are fascinating. Thank you for letting us tag along.

  4. Judy on May 3, 2024 at 6:00 pm

    I love this post, You took me back to my long ago Sunday school years! Daniel interpreted dreams, like the writing on the wall! So cool how we still use that phrase! Thank you, Ruth Anne!

  5. Pam Morgan on May 4, 2024 at 11:06 am

    Loved the way you wove the Sunday school messages to the different religions.

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