H.G. Bishop Moussa
All verses are quoted from the New King James Bible
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
Pope (117) of the Holy See of St. Mark
TABLE OF CONTENTS
+ Your future
+ No barrier, No contradiction
+ The present proceeds from the future
+ A future and another future
+ An analogy
+ Repentance as a resurrection
+ Repentance as a regeneration
+ How can my body share in repentance?
+ Devotional character
+ Communal character
+ Ritual character
+ The apostles & fellowship
+ A story
+ Fellowship with the brethren
+ Fellowship with the heavenly beings
4. THE WORD
+ Good news
+ The importance of preaching the word
+ Channels of conveying God's word
HOW TO APPROACH GOD'S WORD
+ Conditions of approaching the word
+ How to read God's word?
+ Your body
+ Before your friends
+ Before the people of the world
+ Before others
+ In the Diakonia
+ An ordinary believer
+ All are workers
+ Can I serve?
+ All continues as it is
+ The Lord's impending coming
+ Advent is a responsibility
+ Mid-night prayer
Confinement to time is a dreadful danger threatening man's life. It means
man does not care but for what is temporal, materialistic or earthly. This is
really awesome, for man is essentially spiritual, eternal and heavenly.
Therefore, worldly concerns alone throw man and humanity down to earth as man
is essentially a divine being, a soul originated from the Almighty, placed
temporarily in the earth, left to dust and matter. But soon man will restore
his heavenly, divine and spiritual nature in an everlasting Kingdom.
Hence, any trial to confine man to time is not but an awesome suppression of
man's eternal potentialities. Similarly, focusing on what is earthly alone is
a burial to the eternal spirit within man. Though man has a body moving in
the earth, and lives on tangible food produced by The earth, yet he has an
everlasting spirit that looks forward to the heavenly, surpassing time and
matter, towering up towards divinity and eternity.
NO BARRIER, NO CONTRADICTION
Our concern for eternity is never to mean that we are to neglect our bodies,
worldly affairs, history and the issues of human injustices whether domestic
or social. On the contrary, revealing man's authentic essence as a holy breath
that surpasses its humanity and materialism, and recognizes the Lord as the
real Origin and heaven as the homeland, makes out of him not only a mere human
being but a true man: an image of God; a divine man; heavenly in nature;
surpassing all temporal ambitions; beneficent as God; self-sacrificing; and
giver of unlimited practical love. Moreover, man's care for eternity shines
with special light on his life giving it meaning and value, as he recognizes
his position as a representative of heaven among earth dwellers, as Christ's
messenger of love in a world missing love.
Time is entirely contained into eternity, no barrier, no contradiction but
sanctification, sublimity and revival. Therefore, by caring for the heavenly
Kingdom we serve ourselves, our beloved ones and the world as a whole. The
Kingdom is not a far off future: "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Lk
17:21). The Kingdom begins in heart, gradually grows and eventually leads to
eternity, an endless eternity for we will be in God.
THE PRESENT PROCEEDS FROM THE FUTURE
There is a wrong concept that the future is the outcome of the present: "What
is sown today shall be reaped tomorrow." In fact, this concept contradicts
reality, for man actually takes present steps in light of certain attitudes in
the future. The future exists in man's mind as an option, a direction, a
vision and a hope. While the present is successive steps towards achieving
this hope. Having a prospect for the future is the only proper means towards a
promising future and a pleasant and a happy present.
A FUTURE AND ANOTHER FUTURE
There is surely a great difference between planning for temporal future and
planning for eternal future. Temporal future is confined to time. It deprived
man form his right in eternity and fellowship in divine nature. On the other
hand, eternal future elevates man up to his real origin as an image of God, as
a son of heaven living in it, in a unity with the Everlasting God.
You are not to blame when you are concerned with your study, artistic
faculties or social and administrative talents and skills which can help you
to establish a happy family self-sufficed financially. A youngman/ youngwoman
is expected to care for all these matters. What is dangerous is to lose your
eternity, to be confined to time, choked up to death into the dust of earth.
We are rather to care for eternity and immortality, not to focus only on
worldly affairs. "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and
loses his own soul?" (Mt 16:26).
There is a nice simile to differentiate between communities of ants and that
of cockroaches. Having a prospect for the future, ants store food. This
outlook generates a plan for the present accompanied by hard work. While
cockroaches, short-sighted as they are, have no such outlook. This may form
the major difference between advanced and underdeveloped countries: it is
The point is to plan for the future in its wider and immortal concept, not
only in the temporal and narrow one.
Now, we come to the Milestones of Kingdom Way out of which seven will be
4. The Word
Repentance is the first step in the Kingdom way. Christian repentance denotes
a shift in the way of thinking, which leads, through Christ's grace, to a
change in one's whole being.
As sin starts with thought
Repentance also starts with thought!
A purely intellectual dialogue occurs between Eve and the Serpent. "Has God
indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (Gen 3:1).
This is a captious question, for the Serpent is acknowledged with God's
commandment and by posing such a question he designs at charging Eve's mind
with doubts. Moreover, he also knows that God has only prevented Eve from
eating of one specific tree, not from all the trees. Then, at what this
Eve answers correctly, declaring the unfortunate end "You shall surly die" as
a wage for eating from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen
2:17). "You will not die" comes the Serpent's reply, as if God has lied to
Eve. God forbid!
As knowing Eve's confidence placed in God and His genuine words, the Serpent
starts talking delicately and in a swindle way: "For God knows that in the day
you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good
and evil" (Gen 3:5). Doubts start to creep into Eve's mind hand in hand with
corruption capturing all her senses: "the woman saw that the tree was good for
food, and that it was a delight to eyes." She has fallen and her fall is
followed by that of Adam's.
Hence, repentance stands for a "new thought", best representative of it is the
Prodigal Son who "came to himself" (Lk 15:17) and said "How many of my
father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with
hunger!" (Lk 15:17). He thought, decided and carried out.
Repentance is simply a spiritual and intellectual consciousness enlightened by
the Holy Spirit Who - through the light of God's word - reproaches us for our
sins, leading us to Christ's cross, His open heart and satiating home. This
can be supported by our punctual honest confession before the spiritual father
who provides daily guidance towards the media of God's grace and solving
REPENTANCE AS A RESURRECTION
St. Paul's appeal echoes in our ears, "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the
dead, and Christ will give you light." (Eph 5:14). Sin is a "grave" that
entraps man into the fists of death "for the wages of sin is death" (Rom
In the Old Testament, the lust has led to death. As a response to the
Israelite's strong craving for meat, God sent them quails from the sea.
"While the meat was yet between their teeth ... the Lord smote the people with
a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called
Kibroth-hattaeva" (which means graves of lust). That is why later in Ezekiel,
the Lord promised the Israelite saying, "Behold, O My people, I will open your
graves ... I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezek 37:12-14).
Hence, repentance stands for "the first resurrection", "Blessed and holy is he
who has part in the first resurrection! over such the second death has no
power" (Rev 20:5).
REPENTANCE AS A REGENERATION
On coming back to the Father's heart and home, Christ's blood, and the
believer's tears of repentance wash him of the filth of sin. He is dressed in
"the first vestment of divine piety" to cover his nakedness and conceal his
sins as an atonement offered by the Lord on behalf of man. Notice that the
Arabic term Kuffarra (atonement) = cover for the Lord covers us and conceals
our sins. Then, the repentant reigns in the Kingdom with a ring in his finger
that represents a new covenant of love. He puts on "shoes" of peace and
holiness as starting to lead a pure life in which he is satiated by "fats" -
the Holy Body, and lives in a fellowship with the saints and the community of
God's house. It is a comprehensive renewal that includes one's whole life,
one's whole entity, time and eternity, man and humanity.
HOW CAN MY BODY SHARE IN REPENTANCE?
Church tradition magnificently refers to repentance, conveying all its
significance, bearing even its Coptic name the metania (Kneel). The repentant
or the struggler daily performs the metania according to a spiritual system
under the spiritual father's direction. Except for Saturdays, Sundays,
Eastertide and holy feasts, the metaniae are performed. In them, the worshiper
beats his chest regretting his sins, and with hands grasped, with his front to
the ground, he kneels before God in humiliation and submission. Then, he
stands up, as if arising from the dead, and recites in each metania "Have
mercy on me, Jesus Christ my Lord!" in order to be gratified by the
Shall we - you and me - renew our repentance?
Shall we shortly confess?
Shall we perform the metaniae?
Besides being a conscious response to the Lord's commandment, "Watch and pray,
lest you enter into temptation" (Mt 26:41), worship is an essential character
of Orthodox life whose church is characterized by:
1. DEVOTIONAL CHARACTER
Orthodox worship fundamentally aims at consecrating the heart to Christ,
devoting all man's potential energies of love to the Lord - their original
source - by Whom they are sanctified and used for the glory of His holy name
as well as for man's salvation, happiness and growth, and for the expansion of
Kingdom work and diakonia. Hence, worship in our church extends and varies:
The Lord is the core of the liturgy, with Him we are in unity during liturgy
celebration, and of His immaculate and holy Body and Blood we communicate, His
Holy Spirit flows and His divine grace is poured inside us. In partaking in
the liturgy, especially when participating in its service, have not you been
overcome by a feeling that you were in heaven? Have not you observed that
church used to assemble at evenings for Vespers Raising of Incense, which is
followed by Mid-Night Psalms?
Then "the door is closed" for the Bridegroom has already come, to Whom we
start praising till morning. After that the liturgy is celebrated and
eventually we communicate Him into our depths, as sanctity and redemption, as
satiety and comfort.
Through the canonical hours, we are united to the Lord all the day long. We
rise with Him in Matins, receiving His Holy Spirit at the Third Hour, sharing
His crucifixion passions at the Sixth Hour, supplicating for the death of our
carnal parts with His own death at the Ninth Hour. Then, we practice
self-introspection with the taking down of His body from the Cross in Vespers,
with Him our sins are buried in grave when praying Compline. His advent we
await with the Mid-Night sleep.
It is a consecrative union with the Lord all the day long, through selected
psalms, passages from the Gospel, and gratifying reverent petitions.
c. Constant Prayer
As hearing David's "How I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps
119:97), church holds to practicing constant silent prayers. We daily recite
short prayers hundreds of times, for example "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on
me, the sinner!", or "Be pleased, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to
help me!". Such prayers are said by the holy fathers to equal a "dozen host of
angels" besides their effectiveness in bestowing inner peace on man's life.
Have you experienced these types of prayer my dear friend?
d. Spontaneous Prayer
It provides a chance for the soul to practice its state as it is, through
simple direct and unsophisticated words, which may reflect full humility,
regret for past transgressions, submission in beseeching, or express love,
joy, delight in the Lord, or otherwise recite a petition for a needy person.
2. COMMUNAL CHARACTER
The Greek term "liturgia" is employed as congregation worship, provided that
the word congregation here denoted the community of believers in Christ, which
includes both the earthly and heavenly dwellers. It is a community extending
through time and place, the visible and invisible, strugglers and conquerors.
Moreover, even earthly dweller cannot celebrate a liturgy but in a group
(priest + deacon + congregation), as it is not permitted for any individual to
celebrate the liturgy alone by himself. Even the liturgy anthems and hymns are
predominated by a communal feeling:
+ "Through the intercession of the Mother of God ... O Lord grant us the
forgiveness of our sins."
+ "Amen, Amen, Amen, Your death, O Lord, do we preach!"
+ "We praise You, we bless You, we thank You, O Lord, and we supplicate
You, O our God."
It is a feeling of one community united by the Spirit, a feeling of one body
for we are "members one of another" (Rom 12:5). "The body is one and has many
members" (1Cor 12:12).
3. RITUAL CHARACTER
Orthodox worship involves rituals, (ritual = system) "Let all things be done
decently and in order" (1Cor 14:40). Therefore, the same liturgy is celebrated
everywhere as well as the same anthems and daily readings of Kutamurs (Kuta =
according, murs = share, i.e. every day has its share of planned, well-studied
and constructive readings). Moreover, feasts, fasts and different occasions,
such as the Holy Week and the Praise of Kiahk, all have one specific system
and ritual, in Egypt as it is in America and Australia: one organized church.
The ritual itself has its own spiritual implications, and its significance in
explaining different concepts and meanings, in addition to its efficiency in
controlling, community to which the One Working Spirit gives one rhythm of one
body, for the glory of Christ - its Head.
Let's experience Orthodox worship with all its different satiating aspects to
devote our life to the Lord, in order that our hearts rejoice with Christ, be
sanctified by the Spirit, and gratified by the community of believers,
interceding the triumphant heavenly hosts.
Fellowship is a most important milestone of Kingdom way. The Coptic word
Ekkeklicia (church) means a community. Hence, fellowship not only represents
an urgent need but equally a natural feature of church life. The church is
the embodiment of the mysterious body of Christ: its head is Christ Himself
while its parts are the Lord's believers throughout the ages. The believers
include those who departed triumphantly to heaven forming the Invisible
Church, or the Triumphant Part and those who still live on earth forming the
Visible Church, or the Struggling Part, to whom will be added those who are to
be born yet exist from the beginning in our loving God's mind and in His
Hence, fellowship is a natural expression of this organic unity between parts
of one body.
THE APOSTLES & FELLOWSHIP
At the beginning of Christianity, the apostles placed fellowship as a basic
principle and a milestone of church life. St. Luke reflects, "They continued
steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread,
and in prayers." (Act 2:42). "Now all who believed were together and had all
things in common, and sold their possession and goods, and divided them among
all, as anyone had need." (Act 2:44, 45).
Fellowship here stands for:
1. An everyday life practiced regularly.
2. One of the four basic elements of the church.
3. Not merely pure emotions, but a concrete fact, as the rich gives the needy
not from his own hand but from that of the Church, the compassionate
mother, Christ's bride.
A poor Christian was once asked:
- Are you happy?
+ Very happy!
- How come! Aren't you poor?!
+ In my heart lies an infinite treasure: faith in Christ, and in heaven
another awaits me.
- How do you feel being poor yet surrounded by all these rich people? Is
+ God's fair and loving. He's recommended me to my rich brethren, some
obeyed and others didn't.
- Then you envy them!
+ Never! I'm richer, "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing,
and yet possessing all things." (2Cor 6:10).
- Don't you aspire richness?
+ No, for "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men into
destruction and perdition." (Tit 6:9).
- Then, you refuse to be rich!
+ No, if the Lord wishes, it'll be His gift to which I'll act as a
- You're really strange!
+ That's true!
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE BRETHREN
How miserable is the egocentric selfish person! For man is social by nature,
and is never to have comfort or rest but inside a community: in offering, and
in love. "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said 'It is more
blessed to give than to receive'" (Act 20:35). This is not for preaching but
for experiencing. Have you experienced the happiness of giving and giving
happiness? Our sole task and mission in life is to rejoice in the Lord and
make others rejoice in Him. The Lord is love, a pure, generous and
+ Let's have a fellowship of love, prayer and diakonia within family!
+ Let's have the same fellowship with friends!
+ Let it be the same with our compatriots!
Love is always triumphant, it never fails. Beware egocentrism in taking
decisions, for most of these decisions will be wrong being based on: limited
reason + egocentric desires + one opinion. Rather try to experience
fellowship in taking decisions: fellowship with God + others + the spiritual
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE HEAVENLY BEINGS
In front of us, the church places the iconstasis on which are hung icons of
Christ, the Holy Virgin, John the Baptist, angels, saints ... etc. All are
looking to us as if appealing to follow them on Kingdom way. Yet how can we
do that unless we study their lives to "follow their faith" (Heb 13:7).
Hence, the Church surrounds us with "a cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1), not as
mere icons but as presence in person, for our God is "not God of the dead but
of the living."
+ Do you have a patron saint?
+ Have you experienced this type of fellowship?
I wish you could get into this fellowship for you will see marvels.
/ | Ego-Centric Mind
/ | |
( People Ego-Centric Life
\ | |
Spiritual ___| Ego-Centric Desires
4. THE WORD
A most important milestone of Kingdom Way is the Word. On this point we have
to differentiate between two things:
1. The Word Within: the Self-existent Word, the Second Hypostasis, the
Logos, the Divine Wisdom.
2. The Word Without: the vocal, legible or written word, referring to
word when heard or read or in a book.
Therefore, the Word in the first case is male: "In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the
beginning with God." (Jn 1:1,2). Here, the Word of God = Logos, while the
latter refers to mere utterances explaining something, not referring to the
Logos or one of the Hypostases.
Preaching the Word in church is essential for two reasons:
+ "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17). To
believe, man must hear the Bible's good news. Therefore, no faith comes
without preaching Christ - God's good news, or without ministering the
word, or without instructing in different ways. St. Paul the Apostle
reflects, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not
believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach
unless they are sent?" (Rom 10:14,15).
+ "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hos 4:6). The word is
essential for knowledge, and sound knowledge is essential for salvation.
Any deficiency on our side on conveying God's word to people leads to
THE IMPORTANCE OF PREACHING THE WORD
The importance of preaching the Gospel proceeds from the fact that the good
news - the news of salvation thorough Christ - must reach every soul. People
must be acknowledged with the Kingdom Way and its milestones even its
obstacles as well as the encouraging elements. They have to know what is
required to go through peacefully and safely.
Therefore, church exerts every effort to instruct believers after they are
spurred to repent. Preaching and then giving instructions are two
complementary and inseparable tasks. In church, the congregation are spurred
to repent, to come back to God's bosom and His open arms. To them, the
milestones of the Kingdom Way are revealed and explained which helps towards
following a sound spiritual line.
Preaching precedes giving instructions, concerning a believer's needs.
Preaching brings the believer back to the Father's realm, while the
instructions show how to go on. But this is not to deny man's daily need for
preaching and self-exhortation: "Exhort one another daily" (Heb 3:13), in
order not to be lost in a dilemma of hidden and apparent wars, or to be
lifeless due to love of sin or spiritual lukewarmness.
CHANNELS OF CONVEYING GOD'S WORD
One may wonder: "How God's words can be conveyed to brethren?" This is
available in numerous channels, out of which are:
1. The Vocal Word
It is preaching the Gospel in spiritual meetings or domestic visits or
through individual work with full confidence that God's word "Shall not
return to Me (God) void" (Is 55:11), for workers' preoccupation and duty is
2. The Audible Word
The service of cassette records is equally excellent and effective as people
can listen to at any time, such as while changing clothes, or having a rest,
or driving ... etc. Bear in mind that listening to liturgies, church anthems,
sermons and hymns actually sanctifies soul and mind together.
3. The Legible Word
It is available in spiritual books, pamphlets, leaflets and magazines. It is
a vitally important method though contemporary generations abstain from
reading, which is a regretful phenomenon the fruits of which will be reaped in
forms of spiritual and mental shallowness and in weakness in human creativity
in fields of literature, art, culture, and particularly in the religious
domain. Therefore, young people should be encouraged to develop their faculty
of reading gradually, starting with a leaflet, then a magazine, then a
booklet, then a book then move to read references. This system of developing
the faculty of reading will make young people give up this stagnation of mind
resulted from T.V., a stagnation that afflicts all the world mentally,
psychologically and spiritually.
As a scientific experiment, turning off T.V. proved basic for:
+ Consolidating ties between family members.
+ Establishing social relationships with other families.
+ Promoting the faculty of reading in people.
+ Establishing new constructive friendships.
4. The Visual Word
It is available in video and projector. It is a method of the age which the
church can use constructively in establishing a healthy life for young people.
It is a compromising element that can retain balance against the flood of
obscene and destructive video films.
All this is useless unless being accompanied by the Spirit of God the Word to
penetrate into the depths of heart, to make the word of the Gospel, the word
of God, "Living and powerful and sharper than any two- edged sword piercing
even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12).
What a horrible danger that threatens our life if we neglect reading the Bible
in a spirit of prayer and need, asking for "understanding", which means
"standing under" the level of God's word, enabling it to examine us, revealing
our depths and showing us the way! But those who study the Bible as if it were
an ordinary book will be forsaken from both God's Spirit and the power of
salvation. For it is the Bible that studies and examines us. At this point one
may wonder "How to approach God's Word?"
HOW TO APPROACH GOD'S WORD?
The holy Gospel is the extended word of God. When the Holy Spirit uttered it
through the Apostles, it was meant to have actual "presence" and perpetual
"action", as being the word of the Perpetual Immortal God.
To approach the Gospel, some fundamental conditions are required, so as to
benefit from the word, giving it the chance to disclose its mystery and
effectiveness: "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
+ Spirit : The word is uttered and written through God's Holy Spirit.
+ Life : The word gives life to all whoever hear or read it. Blessed
CONDITIONS OF APPROACHING THE WORD
Two basic conditions for reading the Gospel are reflected in the Old
Testament: as the Lord demanded of Moses and the people a special condition of
a. Personal Sanctification
That is purification of body + mind + soul + spirit. In short, it is full
devotion of heart to God, for sanctification does not mean not to sin, but
rather to devote heart to God. It is man's struggle with all his power not to
sin, even when sinning, returns soon to the Lord.
b. Observance of the Holiness of the Speaker
That is to listen in full submission, filled with God's fear. It is submissive
reading "God speaks, listen in full submission!" Hence, spiritual struggle and
humility before God are two basic conditions to benefit from reading and
studying the Gospel. But for every self- conceited person who approaches the
Bible with no intention to repent, the Gospel will turn into reproach and
condemnation in his life. However, if this person responds and returns to
God, he will benefit from the word of God. But if he proceeds in his
intellectual pride, intentional impure way, and indifference, the word will
HOW TO READ GOD'S WORD?
Many methods are followed in reading God's word: all are based on spiritual
benefit designed at our salvation. Unless I open my mouth and quench my thirst
in the barren desert of life, no avail knowing the site of the source of water
or analyzing its water concerning quantity, geological origin, source of
proceeding, streams ... etc. The point is to drink, to quench thirst, then to
study. The following are some of the methods:
1. The Personal Method
It is God's personal message to me. The Gospel is daily opened preferably at
the early morning. A chapter is read regularly through which I listen to God's
voice as a letter in my mailbox. His message may be a comforting verse, an
encouraging promise, or a miracle stressing God's infinite potentials.
2. The Method of Experience
The Old Testament reveals God's work for man throughout successive
generations. This helps towards acquiring experience, for the Bible is a
school of experience. If you read the Old Testament (I wish you can read three
chapters per day to finish the whole Bible once a year), you will acquire
+ Eve's fall due to listening to the Serpent.
+ Adam's fall due to his easy surrendering to Eve.
+ Father Abraham's triumph under the sole guidance of God.
+ Joseph's triumph as determining the situation.
+ Samson's and David's falls due to their indifference.
+ Solomon's degradation to idolatry as preoccupying himself with lust.
3. The Method of Study
It is a very rich and gratifying method. You can study a Biblical book per
month, with the aid of an exegesis book that provides sound explanation and
reveals the spirit of the holy fathers, and their method of comprehending
This method requires patience, exerting mental effort, and perhaps learning
languages both archaic and in-use, holding comparisons between different
explanations, drawing tables and recording abridged notes. Yet, it is surely
a very gratifying method capable of occupying mind with constructive thoughts
and ideas, providing material for diakonia and establishing life on a sound
If You ...
+ read a New Testament chapter per day in a personal method,
+ read three Old Testament chapters to acquire experience,
+ read a Biblical book per month with the aid of an exegesis book,
You Will ....
+ read the whole Bible once a year,
+ study twelve Biblical books.
How gratifying! The Gospel is a gratifying bread "Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:3). It is
a water that washes, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not
sin against You" (Ps 119:11). "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to
my path" (Ps 119:105). Let's always remember H.H. Pope Shenouda III when
saying: "Keep the Bible, the Bible keeps you!"
"My pledge of perfect love for Lord Jesus Christ cannot be fulfilled unless I
shed my blood for Him. I fear your charity lest it prejudice me, rather suffer
me to be the food of wild beasts through whom I may attain unto God. I am
God's grain and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts to become my
sepulcher that they may leave nothing of my body, that when I am dead I may
not be troublesome to any man... Now I am invisible to the world, I become
thus a sacrifice offered to God."
St. Ignatius Theophorus
On their giving testimony, both living and enlivening, our fathers so bravely
faced death that when we contemplate their lives - ashamed of ourselves - we
wonder: "Can we attain unto the Lord as martyrs?" St. John Chrysostom
replies: "Is crucifixion an only way for martyrdom? If it were so, Job would
be denied his crown though his sufferings exceeded that of many martyrs. His
sufferings and pains were great enough to include property, children and his
own body, moreover, to include humiliation from wife, friends and enemies even
from his servant. For all this I would say that Job was a martyr."
I'd introduce you - my dear friend - some stands of testimony to introspect
ourselves on their light:
Struggle - my dear friend - against body and its many wars as a martyr.
Deprive it joyfully from the pleasures of sin and food, pommel it to keep
vigil and pray, subdue it many times to kneel, raise hands up to heaven and
beat chest as a repentant sinner who has come back to the Father's house. If
you do all this, you would be on the way of martyrs. Therefore, St. Paul the
Apostle appeals to us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable
to God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom 12:1). "You were bought at a
price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are
When St. Paul's slogan is made foremost in our lives, "Now the body is not for
sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" (1Cor 6:13),
when we live as true repentants constantly and daily entreating God to grant
us His grace, we become "temples of the Holy Spirit" sanctified in both body
and senses with a blessed purity. Yet attaining this state depends on our
honesty, industriousness, persistence and keeping alert as well as particular
stands in which we witness against body and its lusts whether in our private
or public life.
In summer, sometimes we come back from our club-services so exhausted that we
cannot stand for prayer. In fasts we escape pains of thirst and hunger,
moreover, we frequently rebel against the idea of fasting itself and its
effectiveness as a purifying love sacrifice. We do not want to exhaust
ourselves in kneels or beating chest. Let's start struggling against body
offering it up to God as a sanctified sacrifice.
St. Peter introduces us to a way of purity, "Therefore, since Christ suffered
for us, in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has
suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin." (1Pet 4:1). Let's follow the
example of the Crucified Lord offering Him our bodies slaughtered upon the
cross of love, with an iron will for purity.
BEFORE YOUR FRIENDS
A secondary school youngman suffers many pressures whether from school and
street atmosphere or from the group of friends with whom he has already
established strong relationships. An adolescent is easily drifted by such
group, particularly, if he senses some sort of inferiority due to a defect
whether congenial, social or psychological or rather due to failure in study.
Hence, he compensates for his defect through trifling whims either on the path
of sin, profanity and indifference or by imitating those who attained long
goals in sin. Fascinated by their personality, he starts to acquire
deeply-rooted habits that turn to destroy his life, such as: lustful habits,
smoking, perversive conduct at streets, shameful hair style and dressing
fashion ... etc.
Starting a new life of repentance, this youngman is immediately encountered by
his old group and their perversive ways. He finds it difficult from the
beginning to witness for his new way. But if he successfully gets through this
exam, persisting and insisting on Christ's way, the youngman would be granted
great blessing in every sphere. He will surly attain triumph over sin, inner
peace, and spiritual growth in an integral personality, psychologically,
socially and spiritually.
On the other hand, a hesitant youngman is coward before friends. His
retreating intention is always prepared for escape. Terrified from criticism
and ridicule, he is diffident to declare his new intentions; worse still, he
flatters on account of Christ. Such a youngman will not but fall back if he
does not determine to go on his new way, making out the traits of his
Christian personality in an enduring testimony, confident of Christ's glories.
Moreover, alienated from Christ, these friends are in a bad need of a strong
example of triumphant and steadfast life. How do we need to live according to
St. John the Apostle's words, "I have written to you, youngmen, because you
are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil
one." (1John 2:14). Why do we escape testimony before perverse friends? To
escape a soiree that does not glorify God, why do we excuse for being busy and
never try to testify to Christ obviously? Why do we timidly avoid seeing an
exciting obscene film on T.V. without revealing God's view concerning the
matter? When do we testify as daringly as right holders and children of light?
BEFORE THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
Primarily, we need to bear witness for Christ before the group of friends with
whom we had once strong relationships in the land of sin; then before other
people whose different principles were violently undermined in the 20th
In this century everything has become confused: moral and religious values
have been swept away in front of a flood of human assertion, extremist
liberalization, materialism, moral laxity and atheism, the matters of which
St. Paul the Apostle knew by the Spirit and prophesied they would take place
in our days, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears they will
heap up for themselves teachers." (2Tim 4:3). "You should no longer walk as
the rest of the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds, having their
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the
ignorance that is in them, because of hardening of their heart; who, being
past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all
uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ ... Therefore
do not be partakers with them ... walk as children of light" (Eph 4:17-20;
Nothing is new under heaven. All worldly perversions and wrong principles have
been in God's foreknowledge. "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more"
(Rom 5:20). But a youngman who is drifted in the going of evil needs to
introspect himself frankly before his conscience, before God and before the
instructions of the word.
Here lies testimony and saints' patience, "For that righteous man (Lot),
dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing
and hearing their lawless deeds." The Apostle resumes, "The Lord knows how to
deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust under
punishment for the day of judgment" (2Pet 2:8,9). Let's witness for the Lord
before predominant perversions, abstaining from and condemning the barren
deeds of darkness, never to overlook faults anywhere but rather attract
brethren's attention to the deficiencies in love rather than primness and
pride nor passivity and introversion.
Numerous are the stands of testimony before perversive attitudes. Let's adopt
the Apostle's slogan, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will
suffer persecution" (2Tim 3:12). We are not to interact with perverse fellows
in the evil world. We are not to overlook faults but rather testify to the
right whatever be the loss.
As children of Christ, we need a careful study of the facts of Christian
faith, particularly what concerns: the Holy Trinity, Incarnation as a
Necessity, Redemption, the Evidences of Christ's Crucifixion, the Lord's
Resurrection, the Authority of Bible ... etc. To prepare ourselves to answer
inquiries aroused, as Christian young people we need to comprehend fully these
subjects so that our reply can reflect meekness and fear of God rather than
partiality and adversary.
Through godly life, meekness, love and sacrificing diakonia, we can testify to
Christ before everyone, in meek and calm words. We must avoid barren arguments
which lead to disputes, rather give an answer to clam questions which design
at constructive knowledge. In love and group sprite we can establish
harmonious relationships with our brethren of other religions rather than
being confined to ones of our own religion. "Let your light so shine before
men" (Mt 5:16).
IN THE DIAKONIA
Contemplation in Lord Jesus' life and service and in the lives of His Apostles
and Church Patriarches set us striking examples. One of the Apostles has sold
himself as a slave to enter a city and another disguised to get into another
city. Greatest of these is St. Paul's example who wandered out over
continents, establishing numerous churches, seeking out souls in sufferings
and vigils, in dangers of sea and desert, in hunger and thirst, suffering
coldness and nakedness, beaten, put to chains, confined, exposed to death
whipped and stoned.
This might record of suffering for diakonia shows us that we have not yet
become workers. A true worker is fully and heartily prepared to endure
sufferings as a "tax" of diakonia. These sufferings fill him with ecstasy as
he looks forward to the glory that accompanies and follows sorrow.
+ Do we sacrifice and shed our blood for diakonia??
+ Do we offer the Lord a part of time we need, or some of indispensable
money, or rather some of our faint and weak effort??
Here lies testimony, for a worker who is satisfied with the luxuriousness of
the diakonia and its external aspects and glories must offer himself up to God
as a crucified and slaughtered love sacrifice.
God grant us to sacrifice ourselves in the various fields of testimony so that
the Holy Spirit may testify that we are bloodless martyrs.
A most important Milestone of Kingdom way is the diakonia:
AN ORDINARY BELIEVER
In church, believers are not divided into working believers and ordinary ones,
for Christianity does not admit ego-centrism. All forms of Christian life
whether monasticism, monachism, and eremiticim reject such an idea of
idleness. Being an integral part of the church - Christ's invisible body - the
believer is never to remain idle, for Christ has never had any idle part
except a dispensable appendage.
A difference may lie between a believer of church orders and a layman who is
wrongly called secular, being related to the world, for even such a believer
is not of the world, "They are not of the world" (Jn 17:16). A believer loves
all who are in the world but hates all what is in the world. Hatred here
denotes detestation for sin and evil as well as complete weaning from
materialistic and worldly property. On the other hand, the believer of church
orders is a part whose tasks are determined by the Holy Spirit, such as:
+ Psalmist : Leading hymns and religious anthems in church.
+ Ighnustus : Reader, reading and instructing in church.
+ Ebeziacon : Visitation and attending on the Holy Sacrifice.
+ Deacon : Managing the affairs and work of Ebeziacons.
+ Archdeacon : Managing the affairs and work of deacons, and assisting
the bishop in managing church affairs.
ALL ARE WORKERS
All are workers in God's house, whether believers of church orders whose
diakonia are confined to certain tasks, or ordinary ones, each has a talent,
each offers his sacrifice to the Lord. Any attempt to escape responsibilities
of the diakonia is an escape from Christ Himself, rather from Christianity -
the symbol of infinite giving. Christ works in heart to make a preacher out
+ The Samaritan Woman preaches a whole city!
+ Matthew preaches tax collectors!
+ Zecchaeus sets a striking example that spurs many to believe in Christ!
+ The woman with hemorrhage tells of God's marvels!
+ The Paralyzed Man takes up his bed announcing that the Beloved has healed
+ After being healed, the Mad Man wants to follow and hold to Christ, but he
is to hear the Lord's commandment, "Go home to your friends, and tell them
what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion
on you" (Mk 5:19).
CAN I SERVE?
Sure, you can participate in many fields of diakonia:
It is a most important, glorious and impressive of all types of diakonia for
it inflames the spirit in church, in both the word and the souls. It changes
others' feelings and circumstances. Remember that whoever prays for himself is
granted a blessing which is only doubled when praying for others. Do you feel
other's pains and sufferings whether being beloved ones or even enemies? Do
you pray for them? "Pray for those who spitefully use you" (Lk 6:28).
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one
another" (Jn 13:35). "Through love serve one another" (Gal 5:13). Love's
profound effectiveness exceeds all for love is God Himself. Seek out persons
who are in need of a touch of compassion and love, or in need of any private
service whether educational, health, materialistic, financial, psychological
or spiritual. Give them sacred, genuine and practical Christian love. Be sure
that you will see the fruit of love reflected on both of you.
Do you think that Christ can ever accept our suppressing the proclamation of
the holy Bible, i.e. the work of God's grace for the salvation of our souls
and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within man?
There are glorious and joyful news that many of your beloved ones know nothing
about! Tell them once in a friendly talk, another time by leaving them a
pamphlet, and a third time by reading over them some verses of the Gospel.
"The generous soul will be made rich. And he who waters will also be watered
himself" (Prov 11:25).
Is there an organized and planned visitation in our meetings? Study this
matter with the brethren. Isn't it important to seek out souls before Satan
seeks them out for their destruction? Why don't we arrange an alphabetical
index for Christ's children? Divide them into approximate dwelling areas then
distribute each group of names on two workers to visit them. These two workers
should be followed-up by experienced workers in the field of individual
diakonia. All can be done regularly and according to arrangement through using
tables and timings. When do we stop chaos?! We have to bear in mind that the
Holy Spirit's blessing is that of discipline, and it calls us to do everything
"Decently and in order" (1Cor 14:40).
Have a look on the aforementioned types of diakonia. Pray God in submission
and calmness and consult your godfather in choosing a type of diakonia. You
have to know that all the types of diakonia are essential and fundamental for
your salvation and spiritual growth.
God bless you!
All man's toil ends at this point: the harvest, at Lord Jesus evident return,
"He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who
pierced Him. And all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him" (Rev 1:7).
Unlike His first concealed and humble coming which aimed at our salvation, the
Advent will be "with great glory" (Mt 24:30). It will be a dazzling presence
of the Lord, "the brightness of His coming" aiming at judgment.
ALL CONTINUES AS IT IS
As an extension of some old deviant beliefs, eschatological facts are put to
be mere religious fables, for all continues as it is. On this point, St. Peter
reflects, "Scoffers will come in the last days walking according to their own
lust, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers
fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'
... But beloved, do not forget this one thing that with the Lord one day is as
a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack
concerning His promises as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards
us, not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance"
(2Pet 3:3,4,8,9). At the end, he exhorts us, "Account that the longsuffering
of our Lord is salvation" (2Pet 3:15).
As a religious fact, the world will perish and heavens will pass away "with a
great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and
the works that are in it will be burned up" (2Pet 3:10). Scientific theories
emphasize that the cosmos will either explode by heat or contract by severe
coldness. Any way, it will pass away. Philosophy also supports this fact, for
eternity contradicts change: the cosmos is changeable, consequently
perishable, as it has a beginning it also has an end.
THE LORD'S IMPENDING COMING
Unlike the belief proclaiming that divine Advent tarries which can be a real
endowed chance for repentance, some first-century believers thought that "the
Kingdom of God would appear immediately" (Lk 19:11). Expressing their
inability to imagine the world without Jerusalem, these believers interpreted
the Lord's prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem as being the end of the
The Bible tells of the Thessalonians, who believing in the impending coming of
the Lord, they gave up every work and occupation and waited for the Advent in
idleness. St. Paul the Apostle reproached them, "Not to be soon shaken in mind
or troubled with by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though
the day of Christ had come ... for that Day will not come, unless the falling
away comes first ... If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2Thess
Though yearning for the Lord's coming and though sharing St. John's call
"Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20), we hold to our mission in
life, a mission of diakonia and preaching and of Christian life and worship.
We hold to earthly order, to work, to struggle, and to be honest.
ADVENT IS A RESPONSIBILITY
The Advent is in fact every believer's responsibility, the aspects of which
are the following:
a. A Prospect for the Future
The believer that places his treasure in heaven, looking forward to the
Kingdom and feeling it within (Lk 17:21), thinks, moves, occupies himself and
struggles on one sole basis: eternal life, by which he is overwhelmed, never
permitting worldly affairs to distract him from the heavenly ones.
b. Renewed Repentance
Preparing himself for heaven, man must be on the image of the dwellers of
heaven. Therefore, St. Peter the Apostle instructs us, "Since all these things
will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and
godliness, looking and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2Pet 3:11,12).
c. Abidance in the Lord
The believer drops and fixes the anchor (anchor = hilpis = hope) of his life
on the shore of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City, alongside seawater
holding eternal life, abiding in Christ, sailing in his ship till reaching the
safe harbor. Therefore, St. John appeals, "Now, little children, abide in Him,
that when He appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at
His coming" (1Jn 2:28).
d. Proclaiming the Lord's Death and Resurrection
It is the believer's purpose of life "As often as you eat this bread and drink
this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1Cor 11:26). The
diakonia is the believer's mission of life which gives meaning and value to
his existence "to remain in the flesh is more needful for you ... But if I
live in the flesh, this will mean fruit for my labor" (Phi 1:22,24).
The church believes that "The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the
night, when people say 'There is peace and security', then sudden destruction
will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with a child, and there will
be no escape" (1Thess 5:2). Hence, the church calls us to keep vigil for we
"are all sons of light and sons of the day" (1Thess 5:5), in order that we
would not be surprised with the Lord's coming, but rather to prepare our
hearts for this glorious day. Notice that the church system reflects both
bodily and spiritual vigil. Bodily vigil is reflected in the three services
of Mid-Night Prayer, while spiritual vigil strands for constant inner waking.
The Advent will be a glorious day witnessed by two groups of people: one group
would say to the mountains and rocks "Fall on us and hide us from the face of
Him Who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day
of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Rev 6:16,17). While the
other group, playing on lyres of repentance, love and joy, would say, "Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).
O' my soul! With whom shall you stand?