Egypt and baptism

January 7, 2011

This
week's sermon is a reflection on the recent events in Egypt. I am
struck by the witness to peace and interfaith respect that exists in the
midst of great violence. I am convicted of my own cowardice and
comparative faithlessness. And I am thrilled to see our Muslim neighbors
standing as Christ in the world. The children of Abraham, Tamar, and
Ishmael are a bold witness to God's Kingdom of Peace. You can read two
articles (1, 2) about Christmas Mass.

The quotation is from St. Anthony of the Desert. You know, Anthony
the Great or "Big Tony" as the guys from Thebes called him. Christianity
in Egypt has it's roots in the first century. Tradition holds that the
first bishop of Alexandria was appointed by the Apostle Mark himself.
Christianity is not new to Egypt. It is not a colonial imposition.

First Century: The Apostle Mark has oversight of the Egyptian Christian community.

Third Century: Cenobitic (and other) monastic communities
arise under the leadership of people like Anthony and Pachomius. And
let's not forget Mary of Egypt, the renowned solitary.

Fifth Century: The emperor in Constantinople sends troops to
destroy the Pachomian Koinonia in the Thebaid after the Council of
Chalcedon. The Copts did not agree with the theological statement of the
humanity/divinity of Jesus that was affirmed at Chalcedon.

Sixth - Eleventh Centuries: The Christian community gradually recovers but by this time the Persian Caliphate holds political power in the region.

Thirteenth Century: Islamic fundamentalists destroy many of the remaining great basilicas in Upper Egypt.

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: European missionaries in their colonialist zeal are surprised to discover a deep rooted Christian community already in Egypt.

“You have shielded us and protected us God,” an exhausted looking Pope began a little after 10pm to the packed congregation.

Thus
is the identity of the Coptic Orthodox community. Surrounded by their
neighbors, they stand...as a minority certainly, but this matters not at
all. Their rich heritage upholds them. Humility in faith is what will
save us all from the snares. Then the people of God will come. Muslim,
Christian, "infidel" will stand. No reed will they break. They shall
instead kneel and God will be seen throughout the world.

Originally posted at Anglobaptist.

Comments

I am glad that people are

I am glad that people are standing up to violence, and I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. At the same time I don't know that doing so in the name of nationalism is very encouraging. I wish they would find inspiration in their faith to act boldly.

nationalism

I agree that it's not the ideal, but if it gets them unstuck and points them in a direction of unity and peace, then so be it. Martin Luther King used the rhetoric of nationalism when it suited and globalism when it suited. I do sympathize with your point, but wonder...

So glad to see this story.