Archive for September, 2008
On Thursday, September 25, 2008 our church, St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church, welcomed some cadets from West Point Academy as they came to learn about our religion and the ethnic customs of its members. The cadets enjoyed an Egyptian lunch at Bethany then went to the Church for presentations about the Coptic Church. H.G. Bishop David, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was present, he addressed the cadets, and answered their questions about the church and its members.
Full Story at NJ.com – West Point cadets come to Jersey City for Ramadan – Hudson County
Every year our church celebrates the graduation of it’s Pre-Servants Class on the eve of the Feast of the Coptic New Year. It was a special surprise this year to have some of the oldies of the class graduate. David Fam, George Bebawy, and Daniel Bishara (who couldn’t make the ceremony) graduated this year after some 4-5 years in the program. The program is 2 years long. There are roughly 10 exams and 2 papers in various topics such as Church History, Rites of the Church, Comparative Theology, The Holy Bible, and Spirituality. In order to graduate, you need to have 70% attendance and 70% on all your exams. In all fairness its quite difficult to finish in the 2 years. I myself took the 3 year plan.
Also graduating with the oldies were the regular scholars, Merit Eskandar, Caroline Gadalla, Joanne Malek, Marize Ramzy, Marian Girgis, and Magi Ibrahim. So CONGRATULATIONS to all and welcome to our servants family at St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church.
Just another email forward I received… It seems all the forwards I am getting lately are awesome! So here is me sharing again…
Our Father who art in heaven…
Don’t disturb me. I am praying.
“BUT YOU CALLED ME!”
Called you? I didn’t call you. I am praying to Our Father who art in heaven.
“THERE! YOU DID IT AGAIN!”
But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good… sort of like getting a job done.
“ALL RIGHT. GO ON.”
Hallowed be Thy Name…
“HOLD IT. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?”
“BY HALLOWED BE THY NAME.”
I mean… it means… Good grief! I don’t know what it means… How should I know? It’s just part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
“IT MEANS HONORED, HOLY, AND WONDERFUL.”
Ah! That makes sense. I never thought about what hallowed meant before. …Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven…
“DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT?”
Of course! Why not?
“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?”
Do? Nothing. I suppose I just think it would be rather good if you got control of everything down here as you have up there.
“HAVE I GOT CONTROL OVER YOU?”
Well, I do go to church.
“THAT ISN’T WHAT I ASKED YOU! WHAT ABOUT THE HABIT OF LAZINESS YOU HAVE? AND YOU’RE BAD TEMPER? YOU’VE REALLY GOT A PROBLEM THERE, YOU KNOW. AND THEN, THERE’S THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY ALL ON YOURSELF. AND WHAT ABOUT THE KIND OF BOOKS YOU READ?”
Stop picking on me! I am just as good as some of the rest of those hypocrites down at the church.
“EXCUSE ME. I THOUGHT YOU WERE PRAYING FOR MY WILL TO BE DONE. IF THAT IS TO HAPPEN, IT WILL HAVE TO START WITH THE ONES WHO ARE REALLY PRAYING FOR IT. LIKE YOU, FOR EXAMPLE.”
Oh, all right! I guess I do have some habits now that you mention them. I could probably name some others.
“SO COULD I!”
I haven’t thought about it very much until now. But I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
“GOOD. NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE. WE’LL WORK TOGETHER, YOU AND I. SOME VICTORIES CAN REALLY BE WON. I AM PROUD OF YOU.”
Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day our daily bread…
“YOU NEED TO CUT OUT THE BREAD. YOU’RE OVERWEIGHT AS IT IS.”
Hey, wait a minute. What is this? Criticize me, eh? Here I was doing my religious duty and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my habits.
“PRAYING IS A DANGEROUS THING. YOU COULD WIND UP CHANGED, YOU KNOW. THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO GET ACROSS TO YOU. YOU CALLED ME AND HERE I AM. IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW. KEEP ON PRAYING. I’M INTERESTED IN THE NEXT PART OF YOUR PRAYER. WELL, GO ON.”
I’m scared to.
“SCARED OF WHAT?”
I know what you’ll say.
“TRY ME AND SEE.”
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
“WHAT ABOUT BILL?”
See! I knew you would bring him up. Why, Lord? He told lies about me, cheated me of some money. He never paid back the debt that he owes me. I’ve sworn to get even with him.
“BUT YOUR PRAYER? WHAT ABOUT YOUR PRAYER?”
I didn’t mean it.
“WELL, AT LEAST YOU ARE HONEST. BUT IT’S NOT MUCH FUN CARRYING THAT LOAD OF BITTERNESS AROUND INSIDE YOU, IS IT?”
No, but I’ll feel better as soon as I get even with that fella. Boy, have I got some plans for old Bill. He’ll wish he never did me any harm.
“YOU WON’T FEEL ANY BETTER. YOU’LL FEEL WORSE. REVENGE ISN’T SWEET. THINK OF HOW UNHAPPY YOU ALREADY ARE. BUT I CAN CHANGE ALL THAT.”
You can? How?
“FORGIVE BILL. THEN I’LL FORGIVE YOU. THEN THE HATE AND SIN WILL BE BILL’S PROBLEM AND NOT YOURS. YOU MAY LOSE THE MONEY BUT YOU WILL HAVE SETTLED YOUR HEART.”
But Lord, I can’t forgive Bill.
“THEN I CAN’T FORGIVE YOU.”
Oh… you’re right… You always are. And more than I want revenge on Bill, I want to be right with you. All right, all right, I forgive him. Help him to find the right road in life, Lord. He’s bound to be awfully miserable, now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things he does to others has to be mixed up inside. Someway, somehow, show him the right way.
“THERE, NOW, WONDERFUL. HOW DO YOU FEEL?”
Hmm… Well, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I feel quite tremendous. You know, I don’t think I’ll have to go to bed tense tonight for the first time since I can remember. Maybe I won’t be so tired from now on because I’m not getting enough rest.
“YOU’RE NOT THROUGH WITH YOUR PRAYERS. GO ON.”
Oh, all right… And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…
“GOOD, GOOD. I’LL DO JUST THAT. JUST DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE TEMPTED.”
What do you mean by that?
“STOP HANGING AROUND THE MAGAZINE STAND WHERE PLAYBOY IS SOLD. CHANGE SOME OF YOUR FRIENDSHIPS. SOME OF YOUR SO-CALLED FRIENDS ARE BEGINNING TO GET TO YOU. THEY’LL HAVE YOU COMPLETELY INVOLVED IN WRONG THINGS BEFORE LONG. DON’T BE FOOLED. THEY ADVERTISE THAT THEY’RE HAVING FUN, BUT FOR YOU, IT WOULD BE RUIN. DON’T USE ME FOR AN ESCAPE HATCH.”
I don’t understand you…
“YES, YOU DO. YOU’VE DONE IT A LOT OF TIMES. YOU GET CAUGHT IN A BAD SITUATION, YOU GET INTO TROUBLE, AND THEN COME RUNNING TO ME: ‘LORD, HELP ME GET OUT OF THIS MESS AND I PROMISE YOU I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN.’ YOU REMEMBER SOME OF THOSE BARGAINS YOU TRIED TO MAKE WITH ME?”
Yes, and I’m ashamed. Lord, I really am.
“WHICH BARGAINS ARE YOU REMEMBERING?”
Well, when the woman next door saw me coming out of the video games centre. I remember telling you: “O God, don’t let her tell my mother where I’ve been. I promise I’ll be in church every Sunday.”
“SHE DIDN’T TELL YOUR MOTHER BUT YOU DIDN’T KEEP YOUR PROMISE, DID YOU?”
I’m sorry, Lord. I really am. Up till now, I thought that just praying was enough. I didn’t expect you to answer like this.
“GO AHEAD AND FINISH YOUR PRAYER.”
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BRING ME GLORY? WHAT WOULD REALLY MAKE ME HAPPY?”
No, but I’d like to know. I want now to please you. Now I can see how good it would be to be a real follower of you.
“YOU JUST ANSWERED THE QUESTION.”
“YES. THE THING THAT WOULD BRING ME GLORY IS TO HAVE PEOPLE LIKE YOU TRULY LOVE AND FOLLOW ME. AND I SEE THAT HAPPENING BETWEEN US. NOW THAT SOME OF THESE OLD SINS ARE EXPOSED AND OUT OF THE WAY, WELL, THERE’S NO TELLING WHAT WE CAN DO TOGETHER.”
Lord, let’s see what you can make of me, okay?
“YES. LET’S SEE…”
God can change us… but are we willing to let Him? Are we willing to go through the refiner’s fire, to die to ourselves and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord?